07MOSCOW4113, GEORGIA MISSILE INCIDENT: RUSSIA ISSUES ITS OWN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW4113 2007-08-22 13:26 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO7074
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #4113/01 2341326
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 221326Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3136
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 02 MOSCOW 004113 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/22/2017 
TAGS: PREL PBTS MARR MOPS OSCE UNSC GG RS
SUBJECT: GEORGIA MISSILE INCIDENT:  RUSSIA ISSUES ITS OWN 
EXPERTS REPORT, EXPECTS OSCE ACTION 
 
REF: USOSCE 337 
 
Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Alice Wells.  Reason:  1.4 
(b, d) 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C) MFA acting Department chief Tarabrin described to us a 
report compiled by Russian experts "proving" that Russia had 
nothing to do with the August 6 missile launch on Georgia. 
The report is being distributed in the UNSC and OSCE.  We 
assured Tarabrin the U.S. considers all information, but the 
Russian report does not undermine the conclusions of the 
international experts.  We hoped Russia and Georgia would 
resume normalizing relations.  Tarabrin said the incident had 
ruined a planned Saakashvili visit, but Georgian State 
Minister Bakradze will visit soon and talks may take place on 
water, wine and agricultural imports.  Since the Russians 
have publicized their report, it is natural for the 
international experts to present their findings to the OSCE. 
However, trading accusations will not reduce tensions, nor 
prevent a repetition of this provocation.  We need to focus 
the two sides on normalization.  END SUMMARY 
 
 
Russian Experts Report 
---------------------- 
 
2. (C) We approached MFA 4th CIS Department Acting Director 
Dmitriy Tarabrin August 22 to ask about next steps in the 
reaction to the August 6 missile incident.  We stressed that 
it important to renew the process of improving 
Russian-Georgian relations and reducing tensions, while at 
the same time preventing future incidents. 
 
3. (C) Tarabrin said the Russian experts' group had completed 
a report which Russia had distributed in the OSCE and UNSC. 
It echoed the press conference the experts gave in Tbilisi 
(available in English on the MFA website, www.mid.ru).  Its 
main points: 
 
-- The Georgian radar read-out is open to question as it 
omits tracks of other planes flying on the zone of radar 
coverage and shows only a straight flight, omitting the turn 
that observers saw.  It quotes the Georgian PKF commander, 
Kurashvili, as denying the existence of such a flight. 
 
-- The report cast doubt on the evidence of the missile 
remains, saying the physical evidence from the impact is not 
consistent with what would have survived a launch, and where 
the pieces would have been.  The Russians agree that Georgian 
SU-25s could not have launched the missile -- but say they 
could have carried it and dropped it. 
 
-- The report maintains that many of the parts of the missile 
did not belong to a Kh-58, especially one panel written in 
English.  It maintains that some parts appear to have been 
separated with a metal and show corrosion, indicating they 
were cut some time ago. 
 
-- The report maintains that Georgian military and officials 
(including the President) approached close to the missile in 
a manner inconsistent with behavior towards unexploded 
ordnance. 
 
Tarabrin suggested that the Georgians manufactured the 
incident to "divert the public's attention from the difficult 
situation in Georgia" in the run-up to the Georgian 
presidential and parliamentary elections. 
 
4. (C) We dismissed the electoral angle, noting that 
Saakashvili needs no such help in getting re-elected. We 
replied that the U.S. has looked at all the evidence and, 
while questions remain regarding all versions of the 
incident, the Russian report does not provide alternative 
answers or undermine the U.S. conclusion that the two groups 
of international experts got it essentially right.  If the 
Russians have distributed their report in the UNSC and OSCE, 
it must expect similar airing of the international experts' 
findings in those venues.  Tarabrin said the "case is closed" 
in the UNSC, but expected, "unfortunately," some further 
activity in the OSCE.  Tarabrin also called into question the 
mandate of the OSCE's special representative, Zuzul.  He said 
Zuzul's authority would have to be clarified before Russia 
decided whether to accept a visit from him.  Karasin had told 
this to the Portuguese Ambassador August 21.  We pointed out 
that refusing to accept him would not look good.  Karasin had 
expressed to the German Ambassador and French Charge Russia's 
"disappointment" that its "western partners" had "immediately 
taken the position of Georgia."  The Germans and French have 
 
MOSCOW 00004113  002 OF 002 
 
 
requested another meeting with Karasin, who will see them 
soon. 
 
5. (C) We said that there is natural concern in the West 
about a missile landing on Georgia.  Looking beyond that, 
however, how best to get Russian-Georgian normalization back 
on track?  Tarabrin said the missile had disrupted Putin's 
invitation to Saakashvili to visit him in Sochi this month 
(Putin is receiving Kocharyan there on August 23).  But, he 
said, Russia will receive Georgian State Minister Bakradze on 
August 30.  Dir
ect postal service will be resumed soon. 
Rospotrebnadzor chief phytosanitary officer Onishchenko has 
just written to DFM Karasin expressing his readiness to 
resume negotiations with the Georgians on wine, water, and 
agricultural imports as soon as Ambassador Chubinishvili 
returns to post.  (Comment:  Chubinishvili told us two weeks 
ago that Georgia is constantly demanding such meetings and 
never gets them.  Every so often Onishchenko announces to the 
press that he would be ready to meet, but the meetings never 
take place.  We'll see whether this time is any different. 
End Comment.)  Tarabrin said atmosphere is important in the 
normalization of relations.  He claimed the Georgians are 
organizing a youth march on Tskhinvali, which is provocative 
and dangerous. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
6. (C) Russia's distribution of its experts report seems to 
us to render moot USOSCE's reftel request for guidance:  if 
the Russians have told their story, the international experts 
should as well.  But trading accusations will neither improve 
relations between Georgia and Russia, nor reduce tensions in 
the region, nor even prevent a repetition of such 
provocations.  We cannot see Putin making major moves to 
improve relations with Georgia between now and the Russian 
presidential elections next March.  At the same time, he 
cannot want the situation to degenerate into open conflict. 
Others in the Russian succession struggle may not share that 
view.  The U.S. needs to focus both Georgia and Russia on the 
advantages to both of stabilizing the relationship. 
Melville

Wikileaks

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