07MOSCOW1316, RUSSIA-GEORGIA, TRANSNISTRIA: TOUGH TALK FROM DFM

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW1316 2007-03-26 13:40 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO5473
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1316/01 0851340
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 261340Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8620
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 03 MOSCOW 001316 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/26/2017 
TAGS: PREL PBTS MARR MOPS OSCE MD BO UP KZ GG RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA-GEORGIA, TRANSNISTRIA:  TOUGH TALK FROM DFM 
KARASIN 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reason:  1.4 (b, d) 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C) DFM Grigoriy Karasin showed little flexibility when 
Ambassador pressed him on relations with Georgia March 26. 
Karasin warned that a Georgian application to the European 
Court of Human Rights over last autumn's deportations would 
lead to a sharp Russian reaction.  He said no process of 
normalization is under way between Russia and Georgia, and 
offered no carrot for Georgian restraint on the ECHR -- 
though he remarked that if Georgia sent a delegation to 
Moscow to discuss deportations it could also discuss other 
issues.  Karasin said Russia would act "positively" on the 
Abkhaz and Ossetians, but avoided declaring that Russia is 
urging the Abkhaz against use of force. 
 
2. (C) Karasin raised the case of OSCE Moldova Head of 
Mission O'Neill, urging that the U.S. give thought to 
recalling him.  Ambassador said that would not happen. 
Karasin gave a readout on Kazakh President Nazarbayev's visit 
to Moscow.  Ambassador urged expansion of the CPC pipeline. 
On Ukraine, Karasin said the timing of a Yushchenko visit had 
never been formally agreed; the visit will take place in 
April.  Karasin had just returned from Minsk, and urged 
increased U.S. contact with Belarus.  End Summary. 
 
Georgia 
------- 
 
3. (C) Ambassador led off his March 26 meeting with DFM 
Karasin by emphasizing mounting U.S. concerns about 
Russian-Georgian tensions over Abkhazia, and recent unhelpful 
Russian actions and rhetoric.  He added that Georgia is 
increasingly worried that Abkhaz authorities might be 
planning an attack.  That comes after the very unwelcome 
incident in Kodori; we are reserving comment until the Joint 
Fact-Finding Group reports, but the incident was extremely 
disquieting.  The U.S. has urged Georgia not to use force. 
The U.S. is urging the Georgians to exhaust all possibilities 
with Russia before going to the European Court of Human 
Rights (ECHR).  In order for the U.S. to be helpful, however, 
we need to understand where Russia is going:  assurances that 
Russia is urging the Abkhaz side not to use force, and some 
hopes of results on normalizing relations and rolling back 
the measures Russia took last fall.  The return of Russia's 
ambassador to Tbilisi was a positive step, but Georgia is 
concerned that other steps are not forthcoming. 
 
4. (C) Karasin responded that "each day brings new signals" 
that those who want normal relations with Russia are a 
minority in Georgia's government.  Russia sent its Ambassador 
to Tbilisi for Russia's benefit; it is not the first step in 
a process.  The Georgian suit before the ECHR will lead to 
more emotion and more tension.  Public opinion in Russia will 
react immediately.  On the conflicts, Russia will continue to 
play an honest role facilitating negotiations and contacts. 
But the "puppet governments" Georgia has installed in Kodori 
and South Ossetia will have a negative effect on those 
contacts.  They demonstrated that, for example, the last 
UNSCR on Abkhazia had the correct tone.  In that regard, 
Karasin failed to understand why the U.S. would not issue a 
visa to Abkhaz "FM" Shamba.  He believed it was because some 
thought a Shamba visit to New York might lessen the chances 
of resolving the conflict in a particular way. 
 
5. (C) Karasin said that our joint work to persuade Georgia 
against using force had shown some results.  Georgian 
representatives spoke less of war, so "the year did not pass 
in vain."  Nonetheless, there is a new pistol in the Georgian 
hands:  the "puppet" governments, which might provoke 
military action. 
 
6. (C) The Ambassador repeated his previous point:  we stress 
the non-use of force with the Georgians; we expect Russia to 
make the same point with the Abkhaz.  On the alternative 
governments, the mere presence of Georgian officials is no 
excuse for ratcheting up tensions or use of force. 
Ambassador noted that the Shamba visit was supposed to build 
confidence; but in the wake of the incident in Kodori, it 
would just produce more tension.  We are prepared in 
principle to allow a visit, but it is a question of timing; 
the sooner this is resolved after the next UNSCR, the better. 
 
7. (C) The Ambassador returned as well to the normalization 
process.  The actions taken by Russia last fall were very 
unfortunate, and against that background it is difficult to 
get the Georgians to listen when there is so little else to 
point to.  The Georgians claim they have tried to engage 
Russian officials on deportations as well as other issues, 
 
MOSCOW 00001316  002 OF 003 
 &#x000
A; 
but got nowhere.  The U.S. needs something to work with to 
try to influence Georgia to show restraint. 
 
8. (C) Karasin answered that people who want to solve 
problems don't take them to the streets and bring passers-by 
into the issues.  The Georgians and Russians can always work 
on issues together; this, however, was a return to 
"anti-Russian megaphone propaganda."  The Georgian suit would 
result in a severe deterioration in bilateral relations, 
which is why Karasin had called Under Secretary Burns about 
it.  It would also kill prospects for Russian ratification of 
Protocol 14 of the European Court, as Russia has informed its 
European partners.  Ambassador again tried to elicit 
commitment to a positive step.  Karasin responded that the 
Georgians had already received answers on the deportations, 
in the form of a letter from FM Lavrov.  The "stupid" Russian 
officials who had committed excesses had lost their jobs. 
 
9. (C) Ambassador asked again whether other issues might be 
discussed with regard to Russia's actions of last fall. 
Karasin said that Russia is looking at all ways to improve 
relations.  But the ECHR suit would block any resolution. 
Ambassador asked what steps might be possible if we slow the 
Georgian train down on ECHR.  Karasin said, "We can think 
about it."  He said that if a Georgian delegation comes to 
Moscow to talk about deportations, it can discuss a wider 
range of issues as well. 
 
10. (C) Ambassador returned once more to the Georgian fear 
that the Abkhaz might attack, and said he assumed Russia is 
telling the Abkhaz not to.  Karasin said he would be meeting 
Abkhaz leader Bagapsh later the same day, and "we will 
continue to influence the Abkhaz in a positive way."  With 
regard to the planned Abkhaz military exercise, the Abkhaz 
had a right to feel insecure.  That is why Russia urged 
Georgia and the Abkhaz to sign an agreement on the non-use of 
force.  The positive outcome of the recent Joint Coordinating 
Commission on South Ossetia, just held in Istanbul, shows 
that the mechanisms can work to reduce tensions, if we let 
them. 
 
11. (C) The Ambassador tried once more -- and again just 
before leaving Karasin -- to get a commitment that Russia was 
dissuading Abkhazia from using force.  Karasin said that 
would be a topic of discussion with Bagapsh, and Russia would 
continue to try to influence the Abkhaz positively. 
Russians, he said, are not the "tricky intrigue-lovers" 
Georgians such as Parliament Speaker Burjanadze depict; "We 
want stability.  We want the sides to see each other more 
often to resolve problems.  It is not good if they believe 
there is an uncle who will come in and resolve their problems 
for them." 
 
Lou O'Neill 
----------- 
 
12. (C) Karasin made a demarche on Amcit OSCE Moldova Head of 
Mission O'Neill.  First, he said, he wanted the U.S. to know 
the MFA did all it could to soften the incident.  O'Neill was 
not detained.  Second, Karasin asked whether O'Neill could 
continue his functions as HOM, given the possible criminal 
case against him. 
 
13. (C) Ambassador answered that the particular nature of the 
violations were a Russian matter.  We were not sure that all 
previous such violations always resulted in criminal 
prosecution.  O'Neill continues to enjoy the full support of 
the USG to continue in his position.  Ambassador hoped that 
the Russian government would not take steps to make O'Neill's 
job harder.  We believe it was unusual and very unhelpful 
that the seizure was so widely publicized. 
 
14. (C) Karasin said he accepted the logic of the U.S. 
position, but could not imagine how O'Neill could continue. 
"He has to come to capitals to discuss the issues." 
Ambassador said that is why, without wishing to discuss the 
violations themselves, he could assure Karasin that Russian 
steps to prevent O'Neill from carrying out his job would 
produce a negative reaction in Washington and would create a 
source of friction between us.  Ambassador asked if there was 
anything further he could do with regard to the case; Karasin 
urged him to stay in contact with DFM Kislyak. 
 
Kazakhstan 
---------- 
 
15. (C) Karasin mentioned that he will be going to Kazakhstan 
with PM Fradkov.  The main issues on the agenda will be 
energy, the Caspian, and some bilateral issues that are close 
to solution, such as cooperation on refugee issues and use of 
the Baykonur space facility.  Most of the meeting Nazarbayev 
 
MOSCOW 00001316  003 OF 003 
 
 
held recently with Putin was one-on-one, but both sides were 
happy with the results.  Ambassador said that the building of 
a new Bosphorus bypass -- foreseen by the recent signing of 
the Burgos-Alexandropolis pipeline -- gives impetus for 
expanding CPC, and he urged the GOR to move in that direction. 
 
Ukraine 
------- 
 
16. (C) Ambassador asked about the cancellation of Ukrainian 
President Yushchenko's planned visit to Moscow.  Karasin 
replied that the dates of the visit had not been agreed with 
any precision.  It was listed in a blueprint for 
Ukrainian-Russian meetings during 2007-2008, nothing more. 
The meeting will probably take place some time in April and 
focus on economic, energy, cultural and political-military 
issues, including the Black Sea Fleet and border demarcation. 
 The confirmation of a new foreign minister gave "clarity" to 
Ukraine's foreign relations.  Yatsenyuk is well-known to 
Russia from his participation in the High Level Group on a 
United Economic Zone; he is a "reasonable guy," neither 
Russophile nor Russophobe.  Yushchenko had managed to retain 
Vladimir Ohryzko, so all sides gained. 
 
Belarus 
------- 
 
17. (C) Karasin said he had just been in Minsk with PM 
Fradkov.  The atmosphere was good, as if nothing had happened 
on gas prices at the end of last year.  Karasin asked whether 
the U.S. was changing its policy towards Lukashenka; 
Ambassador replied it was not.  Karasin urged the U.S. to 
maintain contacts and avoid calling Lukashenka the "last 
tyrant in Europe."  The Belarusans are tough, and they just 
shrug off sanctions and blockades. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
18. (C) It is increasingly clear that the MFA has little 
control over relations with Georgia.  Karasin's hard line on 
Georgia appears to be based on his perception that his 
superiors want to hear him talk tough with the Americans.  He 
did hint that a Georgian delegation might make some progress 
on both deportation and other issues; but he clearly wanted 
the U.S. message to Georgia to be that Russia is readying 
sticks, not carrots. 
 
19. (C) It is hard to say how much of this is tactical -- to 
get the Georgians to back away from ECHR, for example -- and

how much may be part of a broader push against the Georgians 
in Kodori and elsewhere.  At this point, we would urge: 
 
-- Strong reinforcement of our concerns in Assistant 
Secretary Fried's possible telephone conversation with 
 
SIPDIS 
Karasin at the end of this week; 
 
-- Enlisting key Europeans to press the GOR on this issue; 
and 
 
-- exploring with the Georgians the possibility of proposing 
a visit to Moscow to discuss deportations and other issues. 
This may amount to nothing in the end, but at a minimum it 
would call the GOR's bluff and strengthen Georgia's hand with 
the Europeans if they are rebuffed. 
 
BURNS

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