07MOSCOW2214, SOUTH OSSETIA: RUSSIAN MFA “ALARMED”

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW2214 2007-05-14 09:48 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4056
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #2214 1340948
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 140948Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0188
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 002214 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/14/2017 
TAGS: PREL MOPS MARR OSCE GG RS
SUBJECT: SOUTH OSSETIA:  RUSSIAN MFA "ALARMED" 
 
 
Classified By: PolMilCouns Alice G. Wells.  Reason:  1.4 (b, d) 
 
1. (C) Russian MFA Ambassador at Large for the South Ossetia 
conflict Yuriy Popov on May 14 assessed the situation on the 
ground as "alarming."  Neither side is willing to blink 
first, he said.  The Russian PKF conducted a monitoring 
mission after the violence late May 13, and concluded that 
the South Ossetians had started it.  AKMs and rifle-launched 
grenades were used in the attack.  One Georgian police 
officer suffered "medium" wounds.  Popov was under the 
impression that the South Ossetians finally permitted OSCE 
monitors to reach Avnevi, where the incidents began.  We said 
that the OSCE had informed our Embassy in Tbilisi otherwise. 
Popov said he would call PKF chief Kulakhmetov again. 
 
2. (C) In a subsequent conversation, the Ambassador raised 
U.S. concerns with Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov. 
The Ambassador stressed that securing OSCE access to Avnevi 
would help ease tensions.  Ivanov, who recalled the role  of 
Avnevi in the 2004 hostilities, said he would try to help. 
 
3. (C) Popov said the South Ossetian actions were a reaction 
to Georgian "intrigues" with the Sanakoyev "alternative 
government."  The Ossetians have been threatening to respond 
to the passport scanning and registration posts that the 
Georgians have set up on the Trans-Caucasian Highway 
("Transcam").  (Note:  the Transcam is used by Ossetian 
truckers smuggling banned Georgian agricultural products into 
North Ossetia, Russia.  The Ossetians believe the Georgians 
will make loyalty to the Sanakoyev "alternative government" a 
cost of doing this business.  End Note.)  The Russians tried 
to dissuade the Ossetians, but the Ossetians were 
"overwhelmed" by their nervousness.  The Ossetian roadblocks 
have hampered access to Georgian enclaves via the Transcam, 
but have not affected access to the enclaves via other routes. 
 
4. (C) We responded that there can be no equation between 
Georgian political maneuvers and South Ossetian recourse to 
violence.  The appearance of Russian support for the Ossetian 
violence could call into question the meaning of Russia's 
push for an agreement not to resume hostilities.  Popov 
responded that "Any use of force in the region is absolutely 
inadmissible.  We will never encourage or support the use of 
force by the Ossetian side.  We will do our best to stop any 
Ossetian use of force."  Popov noted that the South Ossetians 
may try to involve the Russian peacekeepers in fighting 
Georgians, but such attempts will fail.  The peacekeepers are 
under strict orders not to be drawn in, and this has been 
made clear to the South Ossetians.  Popov said Security 
Council Deputy Secretary Zubakov spoke to Kokoity on May 12. 
Popov denied rumors that Kokoity is expected in Moscow. 
 
5. (C) Popov departs for Tbilisi and Tskhinvali on May 15. 
He hopes to ease tensions by getting the South Ossetians to 
lift their blockade as part of a gentlemen's agreement with 
the Georgians to ease their passport regime after a 
face-saving interval.  He urged the U.S. to impress upon the 
Georgians the need to avoid violence.  He asked the U.S., in 
view of the "warlord traditions and mentality" of the 
Ossetians, to urge Georgia to refrain from provoking the 
Ossetians.  Popov has the feeling that the Georgians would 
like to "stir up the South Ossetians."  That would be 
"unfruitful." 
 
6. (C) Comment:  The Russians are clearly backpedaling from 
the South Ossetians, at least in public.   When we pointed to 
Russian MFA and PKF statements critical of the Ossetians, 
Popov said they were "not critical -- just objective."  Based 
on Popov's words, Russia's statements appear to be a warning 
to Kokoity not to try to start something in the hope that 
Russia might finish it. 
 
BURNS

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