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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW3954 2007-08-13 17:45 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #3954/01 2251745
P 131745Z AUG 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 003954 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/10/2017 
Classified By: Charge Daniel A. Russell.  Reason:  1.4 (b, d) 
1. (C) EUR DAS Matt Bryza discussed frozen conflicts in 
Georgia with senior MFA officials August 1.  South Ossetia 
negotiator Popov agreed that South Ossetian leader Kokoity is 
"not indispensable," suggested Kokoity might outlive his 
utility "in maybe 3 years or so," but asserted that he wields 
real power and "will be around for some time to come." 
Russia will not participate in the status commission Georgia 
has created to work with the Kurta authorities under 
Sanakoyev, but invited the U.S. to work closely with the 
Georgians and Russians to make the Joint Control Commission 
format a success.  Bryza agreed that Georgia should try to 
engage Kokoity but questioned how long Russia would find it 
in its interests to continue to support his regime.  Abkhazia 
negotiator Chernov urged Georgia to make a goodwill gesture 
and replace its delegate to the Chuburkhinja talks, who is 
unacceptable to the Abkhaz.  He also urged the U.S. to 
facilitate a visit by Abkhaz "FM" Shamba to the UN.  Bryza 
agreed that talks need to re-start, including between 
President Saakashvili and Abkhaz leader Bagapsh; this process 
should lead to a Shamba visit.  Popov suggested a trilateral 
meeting among Saakashvili, Bagapsh and Kokoity.  Tarabrin 
asserted that Russia is for stability on its southern 
borders, but not for the status quo.  Bryza replied that it 
is hard to convince Georgia of that absent visible progress 
in the peace processes.   END SUMMARY. 
2. (C) Charge hosted a dinner August 1 for visiting EUR DAS 
Matt Bryza with MFA Ambassador at Large for South Ossetia 
Yuriy Popov, Ambassador at Large for Abkhazia Vladislav 
Chernov, and 4th CIS Department Acting Director Dmitriy 
Tarabrin.  Bryza had worked with Chernov in meetings of the 
Friends of the Secretary General, but had not met Popov or 
South Ossetia 
3. (C) Popov led off by warning that Tskhinvali leader 
Kokoity is "impulsive" and that Georgian policies appear to 
be aimed at provoking him into aggressive moves.  Georgian 
backing for Kurta leader Sanakoyev has "no chance" of 
success, since Sanakoyev will never win the loyalty of the 
South Ossetian people or the acceptance of North Caucasians, 
who strongly back South Ossetia.  Georgian hopes of dealing 
with Sanakoyev to the exclusion of Kokoity will never be 
realized, he said; and therefore Russia will not participate 
in the commission Georgia has set up to work out status with 
Sanakoyev.  The current Joint Control Commission format, in 
which Kokoity participates, must be maintained.  Popov made a 
cryptically phrased (comment:  and perhaps unauthorized.) 
invitation to Bryza to work together with the Georgians and 
Russians to make the JCC process a success. 
4. (C) Bryza replied that he had been working with the 
Georgians to get them to understand that they cannot garner 
international legitimacy if they do not engage Kokoity.  At 
the same time, Bryza questioned how long Russia would want to 
be associated with someone as unsavory as Kokoity, given what 
all know about his criminal activities, impulsive attacks on 
Georgian villages, and blocking of JPFK investigations. 
Popov admitted that Kokoity is "a liability," and reiterated 
that he is "not indispensable."  However, the reality is that 
Kokoity exercises real power in South Ossetia and enjoys 
strong support in Russia's sensitive North Caucasus.  "He 
will be around for some time to come," Popov said, though he 
noted things could change "in maybe 3 years or so." 
5. (C) Popov mentioned that Georgia has now officially 
notified Russia that it is pulling out of the 2000 agreement 
on economic development in South Ossetia.  Bryza said he had 
urged the Georgians not to do this, telling them it is unwise 
to channel so much aid through Sanakoyev and so little 
through the OSCE -- not least because Sanakoyev cannot win 
the loyalty of the South Ossetians if he is perceived as a 
Georgian stooge. 
6. (C) Chernov asserted that Georgian actions have eroded the 
trust of the Abkhaz in the entire peace process.  He 
inveighed against the Georgians establishing a summer camp 
next to Abkhazia "loaded up with girls and liquor to attract 
stupid Abkhaz."  Chernov accused the Georgians of doubling 
the number of their forces in the Upper Kodori Valley.  He 
said the Georgians had agreed to resume quadripartite talks 
in Chuburkhunja (and the Russians had agreed to relinquish 
MOSCOW 00003954  002 OF 003 
the chair of these talks to UNOMIG).  Then, however, they 
appointed as their negotiator a man who had participated in 
combat operations against the Abkhaz; as a "goodwill 
gesture," Georgia should replace him.  Chernov urged the U.S. 
to facilitate a visit to the UN for Abkhaz "F
oreign Minister" 
Sergey Shamba, saying this issue had now become a litmus test 
for the Abkhaz.  Tarabrin added that the Abkhaz are accusing 
the Russians of being ineffective in talking to the Americans 
if they cannot even settle a simple visa issue. 
7. (C) Bryza replied that Georgian leaders claimed there are 
no Abkhaz youth for many kilometers north of the Georgian 
summer camp and so there was little chance of clashes between 
"stupid youth who would want to do what we used to do when we 
were kids."  Still, Bryza had told President Saakashvili that 
the U.S. questioned the wisdom of placing the camp in such 
provocative location.  If Russia believes the Georgians have 
increased their forces over previous levels, it should ask 
for a joint monitoring mission to investigate.  Bryza said he 
would discuss the Chuburkhinja appointment with the Georgians 
-- though of course if having fought in the war were a 
disqualification, the Georgians could object to the 
participation of Abkhaz "FM" Shamba. 
8. (C) Bryza stressed that the Shamba visit to the UN had 
taken on purely symbolic value, as Shamba as access to four 
members of the UNSC,s P5 and to a UN Under Secretary General 
through the Geneva-Friends Process.  The Shamba visit needed 
to mark a step forward in the mediation process.  Given 
Shamba,s nasty claims via DVD to the UNSC last spring that 
Abkhaz and Georgians could never live together, and the risk 
of conflating the Kosovo and Abkhazia debates at the UN, now 
was not the time for a  Shamba visit to New York.  Such a 
visit could be helpful once Abkhaz leader Bagapsh accepted 
Georgian President Saakashvili,s unconditional offer to 
meet.  Bryza had worked hard to persuade Georgian President 
Saakashvili to convince him to meet without preconditions 
with Abkhaz leader Bagapsh, only to have his work undone when 
Bagapsh placed unacceptable preconditions on a meeting.  The 
Chuburkhinja talks should be resumed (with the Georgians 
perhaps offering a more palatable head of delegation), 
Bagapsh and Saakashvili should meet, and then Shamba could 
make a meaningful, as opposed to symbolic, visit to the UN. 
Bryza noted that preparations for the Sochi Olympics, if 
handled correctly, could build confidence and restore 
economic ties between Georgia and Abkhazia.  Chernov said 
that right now the results of a Bagapsh-Saakashvili meeting 
are "predictable" and urged Bryza to be flexible with regard 
to the sequencing.   But he and Tarabrin also concurred with 
Bryza,s assessment that Russia does not actually want Kosovo 
to become a precedent for Abkhazia; rather, Russia worries 
that Kosovo may become a precedent with unpredictable and 
potentially dangerous consequences across the entire 
Caucasus.  Bryza said he would discuss the issue with the 
Western friends, who have also objected to a merely symbolic 
Shamba visit to New York. 
Russia's Aims 
9. (C) Charge said that we increasingly hear from American 
commentators that Russia's tactics indicate that its strategy 
is to preserve the status quo in its neighborhood.  A status 
quo cannot be maintained forever.  What, he asked, is 
Russia's long-term strategy?  Tarabrin answered that Russia 
is for stability, not for status quo.  Russia understands 
that the status quo cannot be maintained indefinitely. 
However, in resolving the conflicts, stability is of the 
highest importance.  This implies patience and a long-term 
view.  Conflicts cannot be resolved overnight without 
instability.  All need to realize that the process will take 
a long time.  Popov added that Russia wants to resolve the 
South Ossetia conflict within the context of Georgia's 
territorial integrity, but that will take time.  Chernov 
echoed that in 1996, when Boris Berezovskiy was Secretary of 
Russia's Security Council (and while Chernov was working 
there), Russia offered the Abkhaz USD four billion to resolve 
the conflict within Georgia's so vereignty; the Abkhaz 
10. (C) New ideas are needed on status, Chernov continued. 
Popov suggested that, when the time is right, a trilateral 
meeting -- Saakashvili, Bagapsh and Kokoity -- might take on 
status issues and work out new ideas.  Such a meeting might 
take place in Moscow.  Bryza said it was an interesting idea, 
though with some obvious downsides.  He said he understood 
the Russian call for patience.  The U.S. -- and he in 
particular -- have urged patience and restraint on the 
Georgians.  But our urgings are ineffectual absent visible 
progress.  If we just tell the Georgians to be "good little 
boys and girls" and stop making a fuss, we lose all leverage 
over them.  The Georgians have to see the results of 
MOSCOW 00003954  003 OF 003 
restraint in constant, if gradual, progress towards 
resolution of the conflicts. 
11. (U) DAS Bryza has cleared this message. 


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