07MOSCOW2128, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED’S MEETING WITH RUSSIAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW2128 2007-05-08 14:38 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO8941
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #2128/01 1281438
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 081438Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0053
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 04 MOSCOW 002128 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/25/2017 
TAGS: PREL MARR PGOV ETRD PHUM OSCE UNSC GG UP RS
SUBJECT: ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED'S MEETING WITH RUSSIAN 
DFM KARASIN, APRIL 23 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reason:  1.4 (b, d) 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1. (C) EUR A/S Daniel Fried and Russian DFM Grigoriy Karasin 
focused on Georgia and Ukraine during an April 23 discussion 
in Moscow lasting over an hour.  Fried noted recent progress 
from the Georgian side (the release of an Abkhaz official 
arrested by the Georgians, toned-down rhetoric)  and called 
for reciprocal steps both from the Abkhaz (release of 
arrested Georgian students, willingness or dialog without 
preconditions) and Russians (end to border closures, 
transport and import bans).  Fried said it is time to work 
towards a visit to New York by Abkhaz "FM" Shamba.  Karasin 
favored gradual Russian normalization with Georgia, but 
focused on the "alternative" governments the Georgians have 
set up in Abkhazia and South Ossetia as obstacles to 
progress, and stressed repeatedly that the de facto Sukhumi 
and Tskhinvali authorities are "internationally recognized" 
as parties to the conflicts and participants in negotiations 
to resolve them. 
 
2. (C) On Ukraine, both Fried and Karasin reiterated the U.S. 
and Russian positions of refusal to interfere.  Both saw the 
current crisis as an internal political issue that the 
Ukrainians must resolve by themselves.  Karasin said that 
neither Yushchenko, nor Yanukovich, nor Moroz were interested 
in violence, but slammed Tymoshenko as having a "relative" 
interest in seeing the situation spiral out of control.  End 
Summary. 
 
ABKHAZIA 
-------- 
 
3. (C) Fried led off with the good news of the Georgian 
release of "Abkhaz" Gali official Chakaberia.  He said that 
after his last conversation with Karasin, he had asked DAS 
Matt Bryza to work with the Georgian authorities towards the 
release, and the result had just come through.  He hoped the 
Abkhaz would respond by releasing the three Georgian 
protestors they have been holding.  Karasin said he would 
telephone Abkhaz de facto leader Bagapsh with the news, and 
asked about the second Gali official who was abducted and is 
allegedly being held by the Georgians -- that would be the 
first question Bagapsh would ask him. 
 
4. (C) Fried raised the ongoing discussion about prospects 
for a visit by Abkhaz "FM" Shamba to New York.  Now that we 
have UNSCR 1752, it would be useful to develop a way forward 
on Abkhazia in which Shamba's participation in an informal 
"Geneva-style" meeting in New York could play a part.  Other 
parts of the way forward could include parallel progress on 
CBMs approved by the Friends in Geneva, such as improvements 
in the situation of Georgians in Gali, Abkhaz-Georgian 
business contacts, direct dialog between the Georgian 
President Saakashvili and de facto Abkhaz leader Bagapsh, and 
return of internally displaced persons.  The point was that 
Shamba's visit to New York should itself be a CBM, not for 
"polemical purposes." 
 
5. (C) Karasin asked whether the "Geneva-style" meeting meant 
an "aria-style" meeting, and Fried clarified that it did not. 
 Karasin said that Shamba wanted to explain Abkhaz positions 
to UNSC members.   Fried reiterated that the visit should not 
be for polemical purposes, but should contribute to progress. 
 Karasin continued that Shamba's inability to meet with UNSC 
members in New York is eroding Abkhaz confidence in the UN. 
Shamba might himself refuse to visit the UN.  But such a 
visit is important to us all, Karasin maintained:  the Abkhaz 
are an "internationally recognized party to the conflict," 
and has the right to express its point of view at the UN as a 
sign of the attention of the international community to the 
Abkhaz point of view.  "The Abkhaz leaders are normal people." 
 
6. (C) Fried responded that we are asking the Abkhaz to show 
they are serious by reciprocating Georgian steps with their 
own steps such as releasing their hostages or agreeing to a 
Bagapsh-Saakashvili meeting.  The U.S. does not have a hard 
and fast list of conditions or demands.  It would, however, 
be good if the Abkhaz can help develop positive momentum 
towards a settlement.  Otherwise, the Shamba visit would just 
be polemical, just the latest in many attempts by both sides 
to gain "foolish advantage."  "If it's important to you," 
Fried said, "let's work towards it together.  "Message 
received," Karasin replied. 
 
7. (C) Karasin asked for the U.S. reaction to UNSCR 1752, 
which renewed the mandate for UNOMIG.  Fried said the U.S. 
views it positively, especially the confirmation of CBMs 
elaborated by the Friends in February.  They are the basis 
 
MOSCOW 00002128  002 OF 004 
 
 
for moving ahead with a positive dynamic.  He said the 
Georgi
ans are responding.  For example, there was no 
propaganda campaign after the March 11 attack in Kodori. 
Karasin said the Russian view of 1752 is equally positive. 
From a Russian point of view, 1752 called for Georgian 
restraint in Kodori and reaffirmed 1716.  Karasin praised the 
flexibility of the negotiators that led to a substantive 
resolution, not a technical rollover. 
 
8. (C) Karasin warned that Kodori is still tense, with 
potential for new clashes.  The Russian PKF is "decisive" but 
the Russian military leadership fears new provocations from 
Georgia and will take steps to counter them.  The General 
Staff has shared evidence with Karasin that the Georgians are 
increasing the quality and quantity of their troops in 
Kodori.  Karasin had promised to speak to the U.S. about 
that.  He warned, "We should be precise:  we won't let anyone 
use force."  He understood that the U.S., too, opposes the 
use of force.  Both Russia and the U.S. need to maintain that 
position, he said. 
 
9. (C) Karasin raised Georgia's refusal to sign an agreement 
on the non-use of force.  Fried pointed out that the draft 
documents on the non-use of force are part of a package with 
documents on IDP returns, and are recognized by 1752 as part 
of the same package.  Karasin said that the Georgians are 
refusing to register their IDPs.  Thus if we bind the two 
documents together too literally we will wait a long time for 
both.  Fried replied that the Georgians have made repeated 
unilateral statements denying the intention to use force. 
They object to any agreement that confers greater legitimacy 
on the Sukhumi authorities, or an analogous agreement with 
Tskhinvali.  Russia and the U.S. need to work together to 
 
SIPDIS 
fulfill 1752 by defining IDP return in such a way that both 
it and an agreement on the non-use of force become achievable 
goals.  Russia has a list of things it wants accomplished, 
such as the Shamba visit and an agreement on the non-use of 
force.  These are reasonable.  Georgia has a list as well, 
including IDP return.  This, too, is reasonable.  We need to 
put these on a joint list of things to be accomplished. 
 
SOUTH OSSETIA 
------------- 
 
10. (C) Karasin mentioned that a Russian interagency 
delegation had left that day for Tbilisi.  It was headed by 
DPM Bukayev, and would carry out a needs assessment for South 
Ossetia, inviting Georgian government officials along. 
(Note:  Bukayev outraged Georgia last year by attending a 
"joint" meeting of the North Ossetian government and 
Tskhinvali authorities and calling for unification.  End 
 
SIPDIS 
note.)  Karasin said Russia wants its humanitarian assistance 
to South Ossetia, while through its own channels, to be fully 
transparent to Georgia and the OSCE. 
 
11. (C) Karasin decried Georgian sponsorship of the Sanakoyev 
"alternative regime" in Kurta.  He said this act cancels out 
any CBMs.  It makes the situation unstable and dangerous. 
Saakashvili has visited Kurta, and is financing Sanakoyev. 
Russia has knowledge that Georgia has emplaced 150 special 
forces personnel under police cover near Kurta.  This 
represents a danger.  It will be even more dangerous if the 
international community starts to deal with the Sanakoyev 
structure, which is now supported by a new Georgian law.  All 
this makes Kokoity and others nervous.  It would be much 
better to focus on peaceful development, as Russia does, by 
providing infrastructure, roads, hospitals and schools. 
 
12. (C) Fried answered that the U.S. is aware of the new 
checkpoints and the military outpost outside Kurta.  We are 
looking into it to determine whether this is a legitimate 
police presence or a violation.  He reminded Karasin that 
Sanakoyev is neither more nor less legitimate than Kokoity. 
Karasin cut in, saying Fried's assessment was "not polite." 
There is an important difference between the two, in Russia's 
view:  Kokoity is an "internationally recognized party to the 
conflict."  Tskhinvali is an "internationally accepted member 
of various structures." 
 
13. (C) Fried replied that the U.S. urges Georgia to have 
contact with Kokoity.  But Fried would not advise the Russian 
Federation to wrap its reputation around Kokoity, whose 
regime produces counterfeit U.S. hundred dollar bills.  EUR 
DAS Bryza had encouraged the Georgians to focus their new law 
on the structure of autonomy, not on persons.  It was the 
deprivation of autonomy that had led to the conflict in the 
first place.  Thus Russia should look upon the new law as a 
useful element. 
 
14. (C) Karasin repeated that this is "playing with fire." 
Any act to strengthen Sanakoyev increases tensions in South 
 
MOSCOW 00002128  003 OF 004 
 
 
Ossetia.  The Georgians need to negotiate with Kokoity. 
Karasin hoped the Joint Coordination Commission can move 
forward.  He promised to send Fried immediate news of the 
results of the Russian delegation's trip to Tbilisi and 
Tskhinvali. 
 
SIPDIS 
 
RUSSIA-GEORGIA 
-------------- 
 
15. (C) Fried said he hopes Russia will resume normal 
relations with Georgia, ending the border closures, flight 
bans, bans on the import of agricultural products, wine and 
mineral water that Russia has imposed.  It is an anomaly that 
even the delegation Russia has sent to work with Georgia 
cannot fly there directly.  Karasin said that Russia has made 
exceptions to the flight ban, for example at Easter.  Fried 
countered that the whole regime made no sense.  Even as 
Russia is trying to convince the Georgians to address its 
concerns, it is engaging in such economic pressure. 
 
16. (C) Karasin blamed Georgia for "publicly humiliating" 
Russian officers in Tbilisi last September.  The Russian 
reaction to that was predictable; "We have our honor." 
Russia needs signals from the Georgian side "of a positive 
character" that could lead to gradual improvement in 
relations, first in the humanitarian sphere, then through 
direct talks on transport and aviation, and lastly "a gradual 
return to normal."  Karasin said he understands that 
relations are "abnormal," but called for efforts from both 
sides. 
 
17. (C) Karasin said that if the U.S. wants good 
Russian-Georgian relations, it should not "push" Georgia into 
NATO.  Russia-Georgia normalization cannot remain unaffected 
by this.  Fried said that the U.S. understands Russia does 
not like this, but we will be predictable and transparent. 
Over the next year there will be discussion in NATO over a 
Membership Action Plan.  If Georgia receives a MAP there will 
be a period of years before further steps.  Russia should 
worry about more immediate concerns. 
 
18. (C) Karasin claimed that the U.S. Ambassador had raised 
with the Georgian government a potential Georgian ro
le in 
Missile Defense.  Fried denied this, saying that this 
question had been raised in Secretary Gates' meeting earlier 
that day with DefMin Serdyukov, and U/S Edelman had given a 
detailed reply.  Any discussion of a Georgian role is 
premature.  There had been no such discussion, and no such 
discussion will be possible in the near term.  Edelman had 
pointed out that we might be interested in collocation, but 
that implied Azerbaijan rather than Georgia. 
 
19. (C) Karasin raised the Georgian suit against Russia in 
the European Court of Human Rights.  He said this could raise 
tensions.  Fried replied that Georgia has stated that the 
deportees exhausted all national remedies, and had no further 
recourse to Russian courts.  Georgia accuses Russia of 
refusing to discuss the issue.  Karasin said that the suit 
would bring practical help to no one.  He said that 7000 
Russian Dukhobors (a religious sect) used to live in a few 
villages in Georgia.  6000 have left, and those that remain 
have no representation in their local executives.  But Russia 
is not going to court over this. 
 
20. (C) Fried closed the discussion on Georgia by saying that 
last autumn's anti-Georgian campaign and the sanctions are a 
terrible anomaly.  Russia should take a longer-term view:  as 
Georgia develops economically it will be less prone to 
adventurism.  Karasin replied that Russia is not 
anti-Georgian; thousands of Georgians play leading roles in 
Russian society.  Fried responded that Russian-Georgian 
relations should be seen as an organic process, with 
development replacing confrontation. 
 
UKRAINE 
------- 
 
21. (C) Fried laid out U.S. policy on Ukraine:  there is an 
"orange-blue" government, and it is up to Ukrainian 
politicians alone to resolve the issues legitimately.  The 
U.S. is not expressing views on the constitutionality of 
early elections:  that is an internal matter, and it is up to 
the Ukrainians to decide issues of their own constitution. 
The U.S. has not rushed in to mediate, nor have we urged any 
others to do so.  Our Ambassador in Kyiv maintains contacts 
with everyone.  Karasin noted approvingly that our Ambassador 
had recently met with Russian Ambassador Chernomyrdin, and 
Fried reiterated that staying in touch is part of our policy. 
 The U.S. might reconsider its hands-off position if there 
were a serious outbreak of violence, but now we consider the 
problem to be a Ukrainian internal political issue. 
 
MOSCOW 00002128  004 OF 004 
 
 
 
22. (C) Karasin pressed Fried for his personal views of the 
constitutionality of Yushchenko's decree dissolving the Rada. 
 Fried said he has mixed feelings.  If the result were a 
stable, functioning government it might prove worth it.  But 
the Constitutional Court is weak, and we will never get a 
clear decision from it.  Fried reiterated that the U.S. is 
not taking sides. 
 
23. (C) Karasin said that Russian views are close to those of 
the U.S.  This is the next stage in the creation of a 
democratic order, the creation of a new political culture 
with a new pluralism.  Russia, like the U.S., is not taking 
sides and has contact with all parties.  Putin recently spoke 
by telephone with Yushchenko.  FM Yatseniuk had just been in 
Moscow and impressed Karasin as an open-minded, thoughtful 
minister with no sympathies or antipathies.  Yanukovich has 
been acting "solidly," unlike two or three years ago. 
Karasin maintained that neither Yushchenko, nor Yanukovich, 
nor Moroz is interested in violence or allowing the situation 
to spin out of control.  Only Tymoshenko has a "relative" 
interest in this:  it provides a chance, and "she is not one 
to let chances go by."  In the unpredictable world of 
Ukrainian politics, Yulia Tymoshenko could go into coalition 
with anyone. 
 
24. (C) Whatever the outcome, Karasin said, will be "fine 
with us."  He said there had been some attempt to "raise a 
cry" about the Black Sea Fleet, but that is not serious.  The 
Ukrainians need a chance to get their house in order and 
achieve an equilibrium based on a balance of interests.  "We 
are calm," he concluded.  Fried said the U.S. is similarly 
calm.  The Ukrainians still do not know what they want to be. 
 Nor can we predict where they will end up.  But we do know 
that if we get into the act the results will be bad.  During 
the Orange revolution we were on the Orange side because the 
election had clearly been stolen.  After the Blues had 
legitimized themselves through fair elections, we accepted a 
Yanukovich visit to Washington.  "In one respect," Fried 
concluded, "you were right and we were wrong during the 
Revolution:  you told us the Oranges would be unable to 
govern effectively.   They couldn't." 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
25. (C) Karasin's comments on Georgia highlight three vicious 
circles: 
 
-- Russian attempts to "legitimize" separatist governments 
and Georgian attempts to create "alternative" governments 
feed off one another and lead to an impasse. 
 
-- Full IDP return to Abkhazia is anathema to the Abkhaz, who 
even today make up a minority of the population of Abkhazia. 
IDP return is linked in all peace plans to an agreement on 
the non-use of force; as long as the Russian "peacekeepers" 
maintains the preponderance of military power in Abkhazia 
such an agreement implicitly gives Russia the arbitrary power 
to decide when a violation has taken place and the 
authorization to intervene.  The net result is stagnation in 
both fields. 
 
-- The Russian search for "signals" from Georgia is a 
combination of emotion -- Karasin called it "Russian honor" 
-- and one substantive issue, Georgian NATO membership. 
There is no practical way Georgia (or the U.S.) can satisfy 
the Russians on either of these aspects; at best, with U.S. 
help, Georgia can manage them. 
 
26. (U) Assistant Secretary Fried has cleared this message. 
BURNS

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