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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW579 2007-02-09 08:35 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #0579/01 0400835
P 090835Z FEB 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 000579 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/09/2017 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns: 1.4 (b, d). 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Federation Council Member Margelov briefed 
the Ambassador on efforts to deepen engagement with the U.S. 
Senate, including reaching out to GOR critics.  He flagged 
his upcoming trip to Tehran and said that Iranian duplicity 
and obduracy were making it difficult to defend the regime. 
A former MFA Middle East hand, Margelov was bleak on 
prospects for peace, but loyal to Lavrov's idea of a Middle 
East conference.  He noted GOR consideration of debt 
restructuring for Syria, reiterated Russian reservations on 
the promotion of democracy, and hinted at sizable arms sales 
to Riyadh.  Margelov was open to further assistance to 
Afghanistan, and said the GOR debate over Kosovo was still 
on-going.  End Summary 
Increasing Engagement 
2.  (SBU)  In a February 6 meeting with the Ambassador, 
Federation Council Chairman of the International Relations 
Committee Mikhail Margelov welcomed increased U.S.-GOR 
engagement, exemplified in the upcoming visits of Special 
Envoy Frank Wisner and HFAC Chairman Representative Lantos. 
Noting his attendance at the National Prayer Breakfast, 
Margelov had used his visit to renew contacts with Senators 
Clinton, Hagel, and Lott, agreeing with the latter to 
reinvigorate the U.S.-GOR Working Group.  According to 
Margelov, Senator Lott plans to bring a delegation to Russia 
the last week of May.  An invitation was extended to Senator 
Hagel, and Margelov pondered an invitation to Senator McCain, 
noting that it was better to engage with Russia's critics 
forthrightly.  Margelov had encouraged Russian Ambassador 
Ushakov to redouble efforts on the Hill and said that he 
would push Putin to meet with visiting U.S. congressional 
delegations.  The Ambassador agreed that it was important to 
deepen contacts in both houses of Congress, and urged 
Margelov to follow up on his initiative to pay particular 
attention to those members more critical of the Russian 
Trip to Tehran 
3.  (C)  Margelov flagged his February 18-21 trip to Tehran, 
his first to Iran, and stated that it was "quite obvious" 
Iran was cheating on its IAEA commitments.  Iran was playing 
a dangerous game, since its pell-mell rush towards enrichment 
was placing Russia in a position where it could not be of 
assistance.  Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov had gone 
to Tehran, in part, Margelov underscored, to deliver exactly 
that message.  "If you're stupid, we cannot do your job for 
you: don't be Mr. Nyet."  The GOR message, which Margelov 
looked forward to reinforcing, was that the international 
community's proposal to Iran was generous and should be 
accepted.  Ahmedinejad was the problem, he opined, since he 
was "the wrong guy" and lacked a strategic vision. 
4.  (C)  The Ambassador agreed that divisions appeared to 
have emerged among the Iranian elite, and stressed that it 
was important to keep the pressure on the regime.  In this 
light, Russian sales of advanced weaponry, including the TOR, 
cut across the logic of the UNSC and the consensus of the 
international community.  If, as Margelov believed, Iranian 
cheating would continue, and the IAEA confirmed this, Russia 
would face increasing pressure to account for its arms sale 
policy.  Margelov, alluding to intra-GOR intrigues, commented 
that "there are many towers in the Kremlin."  He agreed that 
the GOR would hear this same message repeated during Putin's 
mid-February trip to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan.  He 
acknowledged that Iran was posing more of a threat to Russia 
in the Central Asian republics, with its aggressive economic 
diplomacy making the GOR suspicious.  Margelov agreed with 
the Ambassador's observation that sales to Iran were less 
important to Russia's economic well-being than ten years ago, 
and that Russia's economic success allowed it to adopt a more 
independent policy -- particularly with respect to Bushehr. 
Margelov on the Middle East 
5.  (C)  Middle East Peace Process:  The region, Margelov 
lamented, was "a disaster."  In addition to intra-Palestinian 
divisions, there was increasing debate between the wings of 
Hamas, which was exacerbated by the economic, as well as 
political, spoils to be fought over. Margelov welcomed the 
Secretary's initiative to accelerate the roadmap and provide 
a political horizon for the Palestinians.  He reinforced the 
GOR's interest that this be complemented by an international 
conference, noting the fifteen years that had elapsed since 
the gathering in Madrid.  (Note: FM Lavrov used February 6 
MOSCOW 00000579  002 OF 003 
consultations with Arab League's Amr Moussa to pitch the 
conference again, as a kick-start to a "comprehensive" 
approach to all the peace tracks.)  The Ambassador 
underscored likely Israeli reluctance to discuss a 
conference, absent a groundwork laid for a positive outcome. &#x
6.  (C)  Syria:  The Ambassador stressed that there had been 
no change of view in Washington on Syria and that it was 
important that Russia pound some sense into the regime. 
Margelov agreed that Asad was a disappointment, and out of 
step with the more reform-oriented, younger generation of 
leaders who were beginning to come forward.  He attributed 
this to the success of the "old revolutionaries" in 
pressuring Asad, but agreed with the Ambassador that it was 
wrong to exaggerate the Syrian leader's exposure to the West 
and inclination to change the power structure.  The GOR would 
continue to engage, and was considering the restructuring of 
Syria's debt, because it believed that the more an 
authoritarian regime was cornered, the stronger it became. 
As the Sunni-Shiite split began to color conversations in the 
region, it was natural for Asad, as the leader of the 
minority population, to circle the wagon.  The Ambassador 
responded that a tough message, and not debt relief, was what 
Asad needed to hear from the GOR. 
7.  (C)  Tragedy of Free and Fair Elections:  Margelov said 
that the GOR would continue to agree to disagree over the 
value of promoting democracy, particularly in the Middle 
East.  Free and fair elections had proved a "tragedy," he 
maintained, pointing to Algeria and by implication Iraq, and 
reiterated the GOR line that modernization should precede 
democratization.  Margelov opined that Qatar and Bahrain had 
taken the right approach, gradually opening the political 
space, which was also true of Jordan.  Democratic elections 
in Egypt, he argued, would be a "nightmare."  While beloved 
in Davos, Gamal Mubarak was weak and unpopular at home, and 
the Muslim Brotherhood would dominate -- despite the strong 
GOE efforts to dictate otherwise.  The Ambassador underscored 
that the succession in Egypt and Saudi Arabia would be of 
extreme importance to both U.S. and Russian interests, and 
that it was critical that the processes be legitimate for 
them to provide stability. 
8.  (C)  Saudi Arabia:  Margelov signaled that sizable arms 
contracts could emerge from Putin's trip to Riyadh, which 
would help to placate the GOR's generals and weapons 
industries and could reduce bureaucratic pressure for arms 
sales elsewhere. 
9.  (C)  Noting Putin's visit to India, the Ambassador 
stressed the importance of the South Asian region and argued 
that the GOR should look for opportunities to provide 
assistance to the Karzai government, recognizing the serious 
security situation and the regrouping of the Taliban.  Russia 
had important national interests in the stability of Central 
Asia and the staunch of narcotics from Afghanistan, and FM 
Lavrov's effort to visit (which was canceled due to inclement 
weather) was a positive sign that the GOR was thinking in 
this direction.  Margelov agreed in principle, noting that 
the GOR faced the difficulty of ingrained Russian and 
Afghanistan reluctance to engage, given their tragic history, 
as well as the challenge of managing relations with 
Tajikistan, where border control remained a sensitive subject. 
10.  (C)  Agreeing to meet with Special Envoy Wisner, 
Margelov did not exclude the possibility that Kosovo could 
become a Russian election issue, particularly if 
ultranationalist opinion was inflamed.  For that reason, 
Margelov argued, it was important to keep the debate over 
Kosovo quiet, "for the Duma's sake."  While "no serious 
decision maker believed that Kosovo was a cookie cutter model 
for Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria, there was a 
constituency in the GOR and the public at large that would 
make the argument.  Margelov resisted endorsing the Ahtisaari 
plan; instead, he argued for a "neither fish nor fowl" 
approach to Kosovo, whereby it remained neither independent, 
nor subordinate to Belgrade.  "Let's work with this strange 
status."  Bottom line, he concluded that the debate was not 
over in Russian policy making circles, and that the GOR was 
undecided on how to approach the UNSC resolution. 
11.  (C) Margelov is sometimes glib, but his depth in the 
MOSCOW 00000579  003 OF 003 
Middle East (where he spent time as the son of an SVR 
officer, and cut his teeth in his own diplomatic career) is 
respected by Putin, and his name has been mooted as the next 
Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe.  Margelov 
is an ally in deepening our congressional engagement, and we 
recommend taking up his offer of support in hosting senior 


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