06MOSCOW11931, S/CT URBANCIC DISCUSSES CHECHNYA WITH DEPUTY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11931 2006-10-24 14:31 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO8478
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1931/01 2971431
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241431Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4435
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 011931 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/19/2016 
TAGS: PTER PHUM PREL RS
SUBJECT: S/CT URBANCIC DISCUSSES CHECHNYA WITH DEPUTY 
POLPRED 
 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Daniel Russell: 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Russia's Deputy Presidential 
Representative to the Southern Federal District briefed 
Deputy S/CT Urbancic on Chechnya, placing it solely in the 
category of a terrorist conflict. Recognizing that mistakes 
were made by the GOR, he noted the importance of economic 
opportunity and the re-establishment of local organs of 
government to turning the terrorist tide, encouraged reliance 
on local forces, and emphasized the need to demonstrate that 
terrorism was a "path to nowhere."  He welcomed further 
consultations with Urbancic, and coordinated efforts with the 
US and Europe to combat terrorism.  End Summary 
 
2.  (C)  On October 13, S/CT Deputy Director Frank Urbancic 
met with the Deputy Presidential Representative to the to the 
Southern Federal District, Suleyman Gelaniyevich Vagapov, to 
discuss counter-terrorism lessons learned from the evolving 
conflict in Chechnya and terrorist acts in the North 
Caucasus.  Vagapov, who volunteered that he was an ethnic 
Chechen, provided a personalized account of the Chechen wars 
that strictly adhered to the Russian government's version of 
the conflict.  According to media reports, Vagapov was 
appointed Deputy to Presidential Representative Dmitriy Kozak 
in 2005.  Before that, he was Chief Federal Prosecutor for 
the Southern Federal District. 
 
Chechnya: Terrorists, not Insurgents 
------------------------------------ 
 
3.  (C)  Urbancic, noting that terrorism was a multifaceted 
challenge that required the tools of counter-insurgency to 
address successfully, asked Vagapov if there were areas of 
US-Russian cooperation and information-sharing that could be 
expanded.  Vagapov welcomed his visit and the opportunity to 
discuss this theme, noting that he was involved in 
decisionmaking on the ground in Chechnya since 1999, when he 
helped reestablish local organs of power.  While recognizing 
that there can be a grey area between rebels/insurgents and 
terrorists, Vagapov stated that Chechnya was a "terrorist" 
conflict and emphasized the miseries endured over the last 15 
years by the local population, none of whom had been asked by 
the terrorists whether they wanted to live as part of Russia 
or not.  From a highly educated populace that enjoyed many 
social benefits from the Soviet period, Chechens were thrown 
back into the Middle Ages and "broken" as a people. 
 
4.  (C)  The GOR's success, Vagapov explained, was in 
reestablishing all local branches of government, adopting a 
constitution, and holding a referendum that reaffirmed the 
population's commitment to remain within Russia.  The 
problems that still exist, he maintained, reflected the fact 
that terrorism in Chechnya had roots in what was taking place 
far removed from the Caucasus.  The spread of 
internationalized terrorism made Chechnya a problem that 
required international solutions.  What was imposed on the 
population during the 1996-1999 heyday of a "terrorist 
regime" was a culture and interpretation of Islam completely 
foreign to its inhabitants. 
 
5.  (C)  Urbancic reiterated longstanding US concerns over 
Chechnya.  Vagapov conceded that the GOR's strategy of 
counter-terrorism and restoration of reliable local organs 
was not without fault.  But the end result, he stressed, was 
a republic whose leadership was energetically rehabilitating 
the economic, health, and educational spheres (with all 
children enrolled in school), and where NGOs were active. 
The threat from terrorist organizations remained, but it 
wasn't an imminent threat, although recent information 
indicated that terrorist acts may be on the rise. 
 
Economic Growth as Impediment to Terrorist Appeal 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
6.  (C)  Urbancic asked Vagapov to specify the 
counterinsurgency tools that were most effective in quelling 
the violence in Chechnya, specifically the value of religious 
appeals, social programs, and economic investment.  Vagapov 
explained that in Chechnya and the North Caucasus writ large, 
a minority of the population was attracted to the terrorist 
movement, but many law-abiding residents joined because of 
the economic benefits that they accrued, in the absence of 
legitimate employment.  Speeding economic growth and 
increasing the well-being of the local population were 
critical factors in inhibiting the terrorist appeal and 
rooting out terrorist elements.  "Only economic growth, 
prosperity, and the principles of civilized countries can 
stop terrorism," Vagapov summarized. 
 
7.  (C)  As for Islam, Vagapov elaborated on the unique form 
of Islam that flourished in the North Caucasus, which was 
 
MOSCOW 00011931  002 OF 002 
 
 
rooted in tradition.  The ideology imported by Saudi 
adherents or by al-Qaida was alien to local practice and 
local religious leaders, who condemned the use of terrorism 
for political purposes. 
 
8.
(C)  Vagapov welcomed cooperative efforts with European 
nations and the U.S. to combat terrorism.  The destruction of 
terrorism would only be possible through concerted efforts 
that eradicated terrorism's roots. 
 
Transitioning from Federal to Local Forces 
------------------------------------------ 
 
9.  (C)  Urbancic questioned Vagapov on the importance of 
relying on local forces to fight insurgencies, and asked what 
advice Russia would extend to other countries battling 
insurgents.  Vagapov rejected the term insurgents in the 
Russian context, emphasizing that "from the very beginning" 
Chechnya was a terrorist battlefield.  With that 
clarification, Vagapov underscored the importance of shifting 
to local forces, noting that the GOR had quickly begun to 
form units of Chechnyan forces under the Ministry of Interior 
(MVD).  Today, 95 percent of the forces were local, with only 
15-16,000 MVD troops remaining.  Four battalions -- the 
North, South, East, and West -- were fully Chechenized.  The 
population welcomed this development and it helped encourage 
active opposition to the "independent republic" leadership, 
whose rule was never accepted by the local population.  It 
was local Chechens who took up arms against Chechen terrorist 
leader Shamil Basayev. 
 
10.  (C)  Vagapov stressed that it was much more efficient to 
rely upon local forces than on troops from around the 
country.  Federal troops impart a sense of occupation, which 
is resisted.  Generating a local backlash against terrorists 
is essential, and should be a lesson learned by other 
countries, regardless of the religious makeup of the 
population.  Locals must be engaged and committed.  In 
response to Urbancic's query on the tools used to elicit this 
support, Vagapov stressed that in Chechnya there was a split 
in the population from the very beginning, with a majority 
never supporting the separatist aims and terrorist tactics of 
the leadership.  The part of society that sought to remain 
within Russia expanded as the devastating consequences of the 
war spread.  It was never necessary to bribe or subvert 
locals for their support. 
 
11.  (C)  At the same time, military losses began to convince 
those who supported Chechen "President" Dzhokhar Dudayev and 
Basayev to realize the hopelessness of their cause and that 
terrorism was a "path to nowhere, a path to the destruction 
and death of the Chechen people."  After the death of Chechen 
separatist leader Maskhadov (in 2005), many realized the 
futility of terrorism.  The decision to amnesty former 
fighters and allow them to join the ranks of the MVD troops 
and receive salaries was an important tool to changing the 
hearts and minds. 
 
12.  (C)  Vagapov encouraged Urbancic to return for further 
consultations, "anytime and anywhere," including in Grozniy. 
 
13.  (C)  Comment: As mentioned above, Vagapov presented the 
official view of the Chechen conflict.  This view conflates 
separatist insurgents, who adhere to Chechnya's traditional 
forms of religion, and Jihadist Islamists, who imported 
wahhabism and fought not for Chechnya but for pan-Islamic 
umma.  This view labels all of them terrorists.  End Comment. 
 
14. (U) Deputy S/CT Frank Urbancic has cleared this cable. 
BURNS

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