Daily Archives: September 29, 2006

06MOSCOW11029, RUSSIAN REACTS TO ARRESTS OF SOLDIERS IN GEORGIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11029 2006-09-29 15:38 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO5032
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1029/01 2721538
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 291538Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3275
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 011029 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2016 
TAGS: PREL MARR NATO GG RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN REACTS TO ARRESTS OF SOLDIERS IN GEORGIA 
 
REF: MOSCOW 10986 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Daniel A. Russell.  Reasons:  1. 
4(B/D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  The Ambassador strongly encouraged 
restraint in a September 29 telephone conversation with 
Deputy Foreign Minister Karasin.  Karasin responded that he 
appreciated U.S. responsiveness and welcomed Tbilisi's 
decision to permit joint patrolling of the Kodori Gorge.  The 
MFA confirmed that it has begun taking diplomatic and 
political steps to obtain the release of the Russian officers 
arrested in Georgia.  The MFA told us September 29 that the 
Russian Ambassador to Georgia had been recalled, the Embassy 
in Tbilisi was being drawn down, diplomatic and military 
employees in Georgia were being evacuated and visa issuance 
to Georgians was suspended.  Moscow will also increase the 
tempo of its diplomatic efforts in capitals and possibly in 
New York.  Public opinion remains angry over the Georgian 
move, but most public figures are calling for a political 
rather than a military resolution. Russian analysts we spoke 
to were unanimous in viewing the arrests as an escalatory 
step by Saakashvili that would likely backfire.  End Summary. 
 
. 
DFM KARASIN WELCOMES U.S. EFFORTS 
--------------------------------- 
 
2.  (C)  The Ambassador, participating in an economic 
conference in Sochi, telephoned DFM Karasin September 29 to 
reiterate U.S. calls for restraint, underscore that the U.S. 
had taken serious note of the GOR non-paper, and detail U.S. 
efforts to de-escalate the situation in Tbilisi.  Karasin 
appreciated the U.S. follow-up on the incident and the 
opportunity in Washington for an exchange between Russian 
Ambassador Ushakov and U/S Burns.  He welcomed Tbilisi's 
decision to allow joint CIS-UNOMIG patrolling of the Kodori 
Gorge as a means to reduce tensions. 
. 
MFA:  DIPLOMATIC STEPS . . . FOR NOW 
------------------------------------ 
 
3.  (C)  MFA Fourth CIS (Caucasus) Deputy Director Dmitriy 
Tarabrin reviewed the diplomatic steps that Russia had or was 
about to take today in response to the arrests.  They are: 
 
--  recall of Russian Ambassador to Georgia Kovalenko for 
consultations in Moscow. 
--  drawdown of staff and dependents from the Russian Embassy 
in Tbilisi and Russian military facilities in Tbilisi, Batumi 
and Akhalkalaki. 
--  dispatch of two EMERCOM planes on Friday to Tbilisi to 
evacuate employees and dependents.  Ambassador Kovalenko is 
likely to join the first group of evacuees. 
 
4.  (C)  In addition to these steps, the MFA has issued a 
travel warning to Russian citizens recommending against 
travel to Georgia because of the threat of violence.  Visa 
issuance to Georgians (whether in Tbilisi or elsewhere) has 
been suspended with exceptions to be made only in emergency 
cases.  Russia will be making demarches in major capitals to 
argue that the officers must be freed and allowed to return 
to Russia.  He said Russia would weigh bringing the issue of 
the detentions to the notice of the UN Security Council. 
 
5.  (C)  Tarabrin said that these measures would be 
sufficient for now, but Moscow was actively considering other 
diplomatic, political and financial measures that might be 
taken against the Georgians.  He emphasized several times 
that Russia was not contemplating military measures.  He 
would not be drawn out on when such further measures might be 
put in place, but said that if the situation was not resolved 
in the next few days, Russia would weigh taking additional 
steps.  He pointed to the large sum of funds transferred 
annually to Tbilisi in the form of remittances (he put the 
unofficial figure at USD 2 billion) but shared no details on 
what practical steps Russia could take to stop such transfers. 
. 
PUBLIC STATEMENTS MODERATING? 
----------------------------- 
 
6.  (C)  Compared to statements on September 28, when news 
broke of the arrests, public officials were more restrained. 
Russian television channels ran (edited) clips of the 
Georgian tapes supposedly showing acts of espionage, but 
newscasters were dismissive about what the tapes proved. 
While the arrests continue to draw across-the-board 
condemnation, few public figures were recommending a military 
response.  The Public Chamber called for the release of the 
officers, pointing to the damage it was doing to the 
bilateral relationship, while Duma Foreign Affairs Committee 
Chairman Konstantin Kosachev ruled out the use of force to 
 
MOSCOW 00011029  002 OF 002 
 
 
resolve the situation and noted that the U.S. was playing a 
role in calming tensions.  Carnegie Center analyst Aleksey 
Malashenko dismissed the possibility of war, but thought the 
relationship would remain "in crisis."  A staffer on the Duma 
Defense Committee told us that he did not expect any serious 
consequences to the arrests, which would likely be resolved 
through diplomatic means.  Such views were not universal -- 
for example, Duma CIS Affairs Committee Chairman Andrey
 
Kokoshin called Georgia a "failing state" and warned that 
Russia would "stop at nothing" if its security interests were 
threatened. 
. 
THINK TANKERS SEE GEORGIAN MISCALCULATION 
----------------------------------------- 
 
7.  (C)  Embassy contacts at political-military think tanks 
were unanimous in blaming Saakashvilli for the incident, 
seeing his goal as an escalation of Tbilisi's confrontation 
with Moscow that would draw in the U.S. and other Western 
partners.  Boris Makarenko of the Center for Political 
Studies said Saakashvilli felt emboldened by Georgia,s new 
ID status with NATO.  Alexander Belkin, of the Council of 
Foreign and Defense Policy, told us Saakashvilli was raising 
the stakes and that Georgia hoped Russia would make a mistake 
and overreact.  Pointing out that "real" espionage incidents 
were resolved quietly, Ivan Safranchuk of the World Security 
Institute said that the arrest might be a good tactical move 
to escalate the conflict, but Saakashvilli was engaged in a 
high stakes gamble. 
. 
WESTERN PARTNERS 
---------------- 
 
8.  (C)  Among our Quad partners, only the Germans approached 
the MFA on this issue and received much the same readout as 
we did.  Because of what they characterized as the positive 
tone of discussions in Berlin during the September 28 Friends 
of Georgia meeting, the Germans have concluded that no 
demarche is needed and that the Russians were responding 
along political and diplomatic lines.  The UK Embassy is 
advocating a coordinated response both in Moscow and in 
Tbilisi to encourage restraint and the expulsion of the 
detained Russians.  The British were more alarmist about the 
prospect for unanticipated escalation into a military 
confrontation. 
. 
NEXT STEPS 
---------- 
 
9.  (C)  Russia has now taken measured steps to respond to 
the arrests and has -- for the most part -- dialed down the 
rhetoric.  However, if this matter begins to drag into next 
week, there is an increasing chance that harsher measures 
will be implemented because of growing political pressure to 
be seen as doing something.  Russia's preexisting sanctions 
against Georgia (embargoes on trade and transit restrictions) 
cut down on the options available to Moscow.  A decision to 
expel the officers quickly in order to resolve this matter 
would remove Russia's temptation to pursue more heavy-handed 
measures. 
BURNS

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06MOSCOW11024, INITIAL REACTION TO 2006 IRF REPORT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11024 2006-09-29 14:00 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4873
PP RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #1024 2721400
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291400Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3268
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MOSCOW 011024 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KDEM RS
SUBJECT: INITIAL REACTION TO 2006 IRF REPORT 
 
 
1. (U) Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Mikhail Kaminin 
told reporters that the 2006 International Religious Freedom 
Report amounted to a repetition of groundless claims that 
there are restrictions on religious freedom in Russia.  He 
said that U.S. officials had repeatedly ignored GOR 
explanations to the point that the GOR considered further 
explanations superfluous.  Kaminin alleged that the report 
was politically motivated. 
 
2. (U) Noting some improvements in this year's edition, the 
Moscow Patriarchate remarked that the report still lacked 
objectivity.  In an Interfax interview on September 25, 
Deputy Head of the Department of External Church Relations of 
the Moscow Patriarchate Vsevolod Chaplin remarked that "in 
comparison to previous years, the report of the State 
Department was more accurate in terms of facts and 
assessments."  He also noted that it was a pleasant surprise 
that the report finally mentioned some anti-Orthodox acts of 
vandalism, but that the number of those incidents was 
insignificant in comparison to the description of acts 
directed against religions that have large and influential 
constituencies in the U.S., such as Catholic, Jewish, 
Protestant, and "new religious movements."  He added that 
while the report addressed the property restitution problems 
of the Russian Orthodox Church, they were disproportionate to 
the restitution problems of other religious communities.  He 
even admitted that the report was correct in noting the need 
for improvements in conditions for Muslims' prayer activities 
and access to religious advisors in the army. 
 
3. (U) Chaplin argued that Russia is only asserting what is 
the norm in Europe: "a society's selective attitude towards 
religious communities."  He said that in most European 
countries both state and society have always understood that 
some religious organizations have grounds for special 
support, while others "could be considered destructive and 
dangerous, based on their activities and ideology."  Chaplin 
also maintained that local populations have the right to 
decide which religious buildings could be built in their 
districts and to whom local authorities can grant community 
space for religious meetings, as well as the right of 
citizens to a religious education and the right to protest 
against the activities of certain religious groups they 
considered sects. 
 
4. (SBU) COMMENT. The tone of the MFA's response to the 2006 
report does not differ markedly from its response last year. 
We are still waiting for the translation of the report into 
Russian to be finished.  We will then review it with 
additional interlocutors in the GOR and human rights and 
religious communities. 
BURNS

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06MOSCOW11002, RUSSIA: CENTER-REGIONAL RELATIONS UNDER STRESS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11002 2006-09-29 11:41 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4684
PP RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #1002/01 2721141
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FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3243
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 011002 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA: CENTER-REGIONAL RELATIONS UNDER STRESS 
 
REF: 2002 MOSCOW 120552 
 
 1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Federal-local relations in Russia are 
under increasing stress due to the implementation of the 
Local Self-Government Law of 2003. This law cuts the flow of 
tax dollars to regional and local government in order to spur 
the localities to become entrepreneurial in developing their 
own tax base.  The local governments, especially cities, 
complain that while they are the engines of growth that 
create the tax revenue "hoarded" by Moscow, they are being 
left with unfunded mandates by the federal government. A 
report to be delivered to the Public Chamber on September 30 
describes in detail the deficiencies of the federal law. 
Moscow appears to be using the new law to reinforce its 
central power and keep the cities politically subdued. END 
SUMMARY. 
 
2. (U) Local, national, and private-sector representatives 
held a press conference on September 21 in Moscow to describe 
the growing conflict in federal-local relations in Russia. 
The participants included the mayors of Rostov-on-Don and 
Nizhny Novgorod, a member of the State Duma Budget and Tax 
Committee, and Vyacheslav Glazychev, an academic and member 
of the Public Chamber. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
FEDERAL LAW 131: REFORMING MUNICIPAL RELATIONSHIPS 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
3. (SBU) Federal Law 131 of 2003 (FL-131), which took effect 
in January 2006, restructured local self-government and 
municipal structures throughout Russia.  In a detailed report 
that will be presented to the Social Chamber on September 30, 
Professor Vyacheslav Glazychev describes the history of the 
law, its implementation, and its intended and unintended 
consequences.  Glazychev claims that to properly implement 
the 167-page law, the federal government should provide 300 
billion rubles, but has only budgeted 15 million.  This 
leaves cash-starved cities on the front lines of receiving 
complaints from their citizens.  Glazychev writes that this 
is an "anti-urban" law that leaves cities subordinate to less 
populated municipal districts in a vertical hierarchy.  For 
example, the city of Murom (pop. 132,000) has been subjugated 
to the Murom municipal district (additional pop. 16,000). 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
MAYORS: MOSCOW MAKES US CHOOSE BETWEEN ROADS AND HOSPITALS 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
 
4. (SBU) The Mayors complained that Moscow had cut the flow 
of tax revenue to local levels, rendering them unable to 
provide basic services, but nevertheless leaving them with 
the responsibility (and the blame).  Mayor Bulavinov of 
Nizhny Novgorod said that this year he was forced to choose 
between funding road repairs and funding hospitals. Mayor 
Chernyshov of Rostov-on-Don said that his choices were 
between street lighting and kindergartens.  The common 
refrain was that while cities were the generators of wealth, 
they were treated like beggars when they sought access to tax 
revenues. 
 
5. (SBU) Anecdotal evidence compiled by Glazychev shows that 
many cities must now transfer 80% of their property tax 
revenue up to the regional authorities, who take a cut before 
passing it on to Moscow.  Other examples included towns that 
were forced to shut their medical clinics, budgets being 
slashed by 50 to 80 percent, streetlights left dark, and 
cities forced to sell land and public buildings to raise 
funds.  This makes life even harder for those city-dwellers 
hurt by last year's monetization of benefits.  The mayors at 
the forum and those quoted in Glazychev's reports speak of 
both the social costs of these cuts and the growing 
discontent among their citizens. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
MOSCOW TO REGIONS: WE'LL GIVE YOU MONEY 
IF YOU CAN SHOW THAT YOU DON'T NEED IT 
--------------------------------------- 
 
6. (U) Dmitry Kozak, the plenipotentiary presidential 
representative (PolPred) in the Southern Federal District 
(which includes Rostov-on-Don), said in an interview earlier 
this year that the federal government was trying to help the 
cities and regions become more "responsible" and 
self-sufficient.  "If local authorities work 
effectively...they should be granted greater freedom and 
independence.  However, if they mostly rely on subsidies 
(i.e., tax revenue from the federal government)...they should 
have less independence and freedom and should be more 
controlled by the state."  He then added that those 
territories with high economic growth rates and who do not 
 
MOSCOW 00011002  002 OF 002 
 
 
rely on federal tax revenue should be given a bonus by the 
state as a reward.  This economic incentive will spur the 
other regions to become more efficient. 
 
7. (U) Kozak, who was the architect of FL-131 (reftel) and is 
now overseeing its implementation in the Southern Federal 
District, refused to respond to the authors of the report, 
according to Glazyche
v. Glazychev accused Kozak of being 
disdainful of local authorities and to those who complained 
about the law's effects.  In his interview, Kozak argued that 
one should not expect immediate results or for everyone to 
like the changes (all reforms hurt), but that the law was 
necessary and ultimately good for the cities and the country. 
He defended the drastic budget cuts by saying that without 
serious motivation, the local authorities would become lazy, 
develop a "parasitic attitude," and discredit the role of 
government in general among citizens.  This, he said, would 
in turn generate "social apathy or political extremism." 
 
8. (SBU) COMMENT: The distribution of resources and power 
between the center and the periphery is a struggle over 
governance and control in this vast country.  Through the 
implementation of FL-131, Moscow is strengthening its 
position at the top of a "vertical of power."  The effects of 
the 2003 law are now beginning to be seen, and as the cities 
feel the pinch of the budget cuts, we expect the tension to 
worsen and the complaints of the cities to grow louder. END 
COMMENT. 
BURNS

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06MOSCOW10990, NATO SOFA RATIFICATION: VERDICT STILL OUT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW10990 2006-09-29 07:22 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4335
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #0990/01 2720722
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3217
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 010990 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2016 
TAGS: MARR MOPS PGOV RS
SUBJECT: NATO SOFA RATIFICATION:  VERDICT STILL OUT 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 10230 
     B. MOSCOW 9821 
 
Classified By: DCM Daniel A. Russell. Reasons 1.4 (B/D). 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  According to the Foreign Ministry, the 
Russian Government is completing its review of the NATO 
Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) -- which was signed last 
year -- and expects to send it to the Duma "within weeks." 
The MFA assured us that all GOR entities, including the 
Ministry of Defense, supported the agreement, albeit with 
some reservations.  Non-official contacts do not share the 
MFA's rosy assessment and attributed the long review process 
to concerns about closer military cooperation with Western 
nations.  Duma representatives told us that the legislature 
would consider the agreement "in due course," suggesting that 
the measure might not be taken up during the Duma's current 
session, which ends in December.  Election dynamics will 
complicate prospects for SOFA ratification, with little 
obvious political gain in advocating closer military 
relations with NATO and the U.S.  END SUMMARY. 
. 
------------------------------------ 
REVIEW OF NATO SOFA ALMOST COMPLETED 
------------------------------------ 
 
2.  (C) Grigoriy Sumkin, Counselor in the NATO Section of 
MFA's European Cooperation Department, told us September 26 
that the GOR was nearing completion of its second review of 
the NATO SOFA signed by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in 
April 2005.  He anticipated that the government would submit 
the agreement to the Duma for ratification "within a few 
weeks."  Sumkin emphasized that there was no political reason 
for the long official review, explaining that it was not 
unusual for international agreements to undergo more than one 
round of scrutiny to ensure that all provisions conformed 
with Russian law.  He said Lavrov had stressed the same 
points in a September 19 meeting in New York with NATO 
Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer.  In the case of the NATO 
 
SIPDIS 
SOFA, Sumkin continued, several provisions had not initially 
complied with domestic law.  He declined to specify the exact 
differences but suggested that they pertained to customs 
duties and liability for property damages.  These issues were 
being resolved.  He asserted that the entire government, 
including MOD, supported the SOFA and looked forward to 
closer military cooperation with the U.S. and other Western 
nations. 
 
3.  (C) Nonetheless, Sumkin said the government might send 
the agreement to the Duma accompanied by several 
clarifications; their nature and wording were still being 
negotiated.  Characterizing the SOFA as a framework agreement 
that could be tailored to individual circumstances, Sumkin 
argued that some NATO partner nations had issued similar 
clarifications upon ratification without significant effects 
upon their military cooperation.  Sumkin did not think the 
GOR's clarifications would impose artificial barriers or 
otherwise undermine the agreement's implementation.  The GOR 
understood the reciprocal nature of the SOFA and would not 
deliberately risk disadvantaging its military personnel 
abroad. 
. 
-------------------------------- 
DEFENSE ANALYSTS LESS OPTIMISTIC 
-------------------------------- 
 
4.  (C) Several of our non-official contacts did not share 
the MFA's optimism concerning ratification.  Aleksandr Golts, 
a respected defense analyst with the Weekly Journal, 
Aleksandr Belkin of the Council on Foreign and Defense 
Policy, and independent analyst Pavel Felgengauer all told us 
separately that a decision to ratify the agreement would be 
based mainly on political considerations.  All echoed the 
sentiment that neither Duma consideration nor a final 
decision on ratification was imminent. 
 
5.  (C) Belkin emphasized that there was not a strong lobby 
for closer ties to the U.S. or NATO.  The MOD mindset was 
still mired in Soviet-era thinking that did not permit the 
military or civilian leadership to recognize the merits of 
active cooperation with more advanced armed forces.  Belkin 
noted that there were only a handful of people in the Duma -- 
deputies or staffers -- who understood defense issues and 
would be able to analyze objectively the implications of the 
NATO SOFA.  If the government did send the agreement to the 
legislature soon, he thought the most likely time to consider 
it would be in the latter part of the current session or the 
early part of the spring session (in other words, after this 
autumn's regional and local elections but before next 
 
MOSCOW 00010990  002 OF 002 
 
 
autumn's parliamentary campaign).  He said the Kremlin was 
sensitive about the timing of any decision regarding 
ratification.  Isabelle Francois, Head of the local NATO 
Information Office, also told us that Duma consideration of 
the SOFA was unlikely until the spring legislative session. 
. 
-------------------------------------------- 
DUMA UNLIKELY TO PUT AGREEMENT ON FAST TRACK 
-------------------------------------
------- 
 
6.  (C) Contacts in the Duma confirmed that the legislature 
had not yet received the agreement nor is it now on the 
docket for consideration during the current session.  Valeriy 
Ignatyev, a knowledgeable staffer on the Defense Committee, 
told us this week that the agreement was still with the MFA, 
which had not finished clearing the SOFA with other 
ministries.  Ignatyev mentioned that the agreement would be 
considered "in due course" but would likely require several 
amendments to existing Russian law before it could be 
implemented.  His own sources had informally told him that 
the SOFA was not expected at the Duma before the end of the 
year. 
. 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
7.  (C) We are encouraged that the MFA is moving ahead on 
interagency consideration of the draft NATO SOFA.  That said, 
ratification will depend on political considerations with an 
eye toward the forthcoming electoral campaigns.  The Russian 
reaction to the landing of NATO forces in Ukraine and to 
NATO's decision to offer Intensified Dialogue to Georgia 
shows that cooperation with NATO remains a political 
hotbutton here.  Nonetheless, Russia's decision to 
participate in NATO's Active Endeavor Mediterranean 
interdiction operation shows that there are Russian 
decision-makers who recognize the value of increased 
practical cooperation with NATO.  De Hoop Scheffer's October 
26 visit to Moscow is the next opportunity to raise the SOFA 
with Russia's leadership.  We will continue to press the MFA 
and others to accelerate consideration of the agreement. 
BURNS

Wikileaks