07MOSCOW3527, LUGOVOY DISPUTE: RUSSIAN RESTRAINT FOR NOW

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW3527 2007-07-19 07:31 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6811
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHMO #3527/01 2000731
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 190731Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2188
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 003527 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/18/2017 
TAGS: PREL KCRM KNUC UK RS
SUBJECT: LUGOVOY DISPUTE: RUSSIAN RESTRAINT FOR NOW 
 
REF: LONDON 2758 
 
Classified By: DCM Daniel A. Russell.  Reasons 1,4 (B/D). 
 
1.  (C) Summary:  The British decision to expel four Russian 
diplomats and take other diplomatic measures in response to 
Moscow's refusal to extradite Lugovoy in the Litvinenko 
murder case has elicited sharp commentary by Russian 
legislators and pundits.  The official Russian reaction, by 
contrast, has been more measured.  Evidence of Russian 
restraint is seen in DFM Grushko's explicit assurances that 
business, tourism, scientific and cultural ties will be 
safeguarded.  While a Russian overreaction cannot be ruled 
out, it appears most likely that the GOR is going to respond 
proportionately and is tending towards damage control.  With 
the official GOR reaction expected by week's end, the August 
summer exodus should provide a natural break in the 
diplomatic dispute.  End summary. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
MFA Promises "Adequate and Targeted" Response 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU) In a July 17 statement, MFA Deputy Foreign Minister 
Grushko listed three principal grievances in response to 
HMG's July 16 decision to expel four Russian diplomats, halt 
all cooperation with the FSB, and be more restrictive in its 
visa issuances to Russian officials: 
 
--Britain should not penalize Russia for abiding by its 
Constitution, which forbids the extradition of Russian 
citizens.  Grushko defended the level of law enforcement 
cooperation that existed on the Litvinenko affair and argued 
that UK expectations that Russia would amend its constitution 
went against common sense; 
 
--Britain, which had refused to extradite 21 Russian citizens 
to Russia in the past, including controversial tycoon Boris 
Berezovskiy and Chechen rebel envoy Akhmed Zakayev, had no 
right to request Lugovoy's extradition; 
 
--Britain was taking the path of confrontation, rather than 
of cooperation, while politicizing the case.  Grushko called 
upon the EU to resist the "latest effort" to turn EU-Russian 
relations into a "universal instrument for achieving 
one-sided political goals," which ran counter to the 
principle of partnership. 
 
3.  (SBU)  However, the fact that Grushko promised an 
"adequate and targeted response," without announcing 
immediate retaliatory measures, suggests that the GOR is 
tending towards restraint (e.g., a tit-for-tat expulsion of 
four UK diplomats), rather than a diplomatic overreaction 
(e.g., expulsion of the UK Ambassador).  Grushko explicitly 
protected business, cultural, scientific and tourism ties, 
underscoring that Russia would factor into account the 
interests of common citizens.  He contrasted this with the UK 
decision to halt all work with the FSB, which would have the 
practical effect of ending UK-Russian counterterrorism 
cooperation, potentially affecting the interests of millions 
of UK and Russian citizens. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
A Harder Public Line, but No Drum Beat 
-------------------------------------- 
 
4.  (SBU)  The British decision prompted a shriller public 
reaction among Russian legislators and pundits.  Yuriy 
Sharandin of the Federation Council's Constitutional 
Committee was one of many who argued that the expulsion order 
was part of a broader European effort to foment "Russophobia" 
and paint a negative image of Russia.  Duma International 
Relations Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev, typically a 
moderate voice, called the British demand for extradition "a 
form of imperialism."  Kosachev added that "you can act this 
way toward a banana republic but Russia is not a banana 
republic."  Several commentators attributed the conflict to 
the lack of common shared culture between the two countries. 
Frustration with HMG's lack of responsiveness to Russian 
requests for the extradition of Berezovskiy and Zakayev, and 
support for Grushko's charges of double-standards, were 
common themes in television and news reports.  Commentators 
sympathizing with the UK position were in the minority, 
although one internet publication argued that "the man 
accused of killing a British citizen and infecting much of 
London is free and treated almost like a hero in Russia." 
 
5.  (SBU)  What has been lacking, however, is an orchestrated 
campaign to ratchet up tensions against the UK.  In 
particular, one dog that has not barked is the Kremlin-backed 
youth group, Nashi, whose activists maliciously stalked UK 
 
MOSCOW 00003527  002 OF 002 
 
 
Ambassador Brenton for months, in retaliation for his 
speaking role at the July 2006 "Other Russia" opposition 
conference.  (Nashi's activists -- also famed for their May 
siege of the Estonian Embassy -- may have been caught 
flat-footed by the timing of the UK announcement, which 
coincided with the organization's annual youth camps for 
activists, held in Tver -- around three hours drive from 
Moscow.) 
 
------- &#x00
0A;Comment 
------- 
 
6.  (C)  Grushko's measured statement that Russia would 
respond in a targeted fashion and the lack of any 
orchestrated drumbeat in the press whipping up sentiment 
against the UK suggest that Russia will respond in kind to 
the British move and act in a reciprocal and limited fashion. 
 While the dispute will have an inevitable chilling effect on 
bilateral ties, the impending August summer exodus should 
provide a natural break and could allow tensions to lower 
perhaps by the fall. 
BURNS

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