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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW4247 2007-08-30 02:53 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow


DE RUEHMO #4247/01 2420253
P 300253Z AUG 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 004247 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/28/2017 
1.5 (b, d). 
1.  (C) Summary: Russian Ambassador-at-large for Black Sea 
Fleet issues Vladimir Dorokhin told us its diplomatic spat 
with Ukraine over alleged statements made by a Russian 
diplomat regarding Russia's legal claim on the Crimea is a 
"dead issue."  Russia characterized as a misunderstanding the 
Kyiv-based Russian diplomat's alleged statements that Russia 
would reconsider its recognition of Crimea as Ukrainian 
territory if Ukraine raised Russia's rental payments for 
docking its Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.  Dorokhin conceded 
that Ukraine is pressuring Russia to allow it greater access 
to its Black Sea Fleet naval base to conduct an inventory of 
assets and the result of the inventory could mean higher 
rental payments for Russia, but he stressed that senior 
Russian and Ukrainian officials have agreed to talk about 
rental payments only after the completion of the inventory. 
Dorokhin also noted that Russia and Ukraine have agreed to 
delay talks on the status of the Black Sea Fleet beyond the 
2017 withdrawal date until much later in the future.  End 
Press Highlights Diplomat's Alleged Statements About Crimea 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
2.  (U) Russian press focused on alleged statements made by a 
senior diplomat in the Russian Embassy in Kyiv about Russia's 
preparedness to reconsider the validity of the 1997 
Russia-Ukraine Big Treaty, which stipulates Russia's 
recognition of the Crimea as part of Ukrainian territory. 
Russian diplomat Vladimir Lysienko allegedly made these 
statements during a press roundtable at the Russian Embassy 
in Kyiv in response to questions about some Ukrainian 
politicians' calls for higher rent payments charged to Russia 
for stationing its Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean peninsula. 
Media reported Lysienko as saying that if Ukraine were to 
insist on higher rent payments, Russia would have to 
reconsider the validity of the Big Treaty.  These alleged 
statements prompted Kyiv to send a formal demarche to Moscow 
to seek an official confirmation of Lysienko's statements. 
"Russian Diplomat's Statement Taken Out of Context" 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
3.  (C) Russian Ambassador-at-large for Black Sea Fleet 
issues Vladimir Dorokhin confirmed for us on August 28 that, 
as far as Russia is concerned, the issue over Lysienko's 
statement "is dead."  Dorokhin unequivocally Russia's 
recognition of Crimea as Ukrainian territory.  He explained 
that both the 1997 Russia-Ukraine Big Treaty and the 2001 
border treaty serve as the basis for Ukraine's legal claim to 
Crimea, and no Russian official "has seriously contemplated" 
revisiting either of these bilateral agreements. 
4.  (C) Dorokhin maintained that "Lysienko could not and 
would not" have said that Russia would reconsider its 
commitments under the Big Treaty.  He added that after 
reviewing the audio recording of Lysienko's press roundtable, 
the Russian embassy in Kyiv confirmed that Dorokhin did not 
make such statements.  The Russian MFA publicly denied that 
its diplomat made such allegations, citing misinterpretation 
by the journalists, and summoned a senior Ukrainian diplomat 
in Moscow to formally protest Ukraine's "hasty demarche over 
inaccurate press reporting." 
Higher Rent Payments Not An Issue of Discussion 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
5.  (C) Dorokhin confirmed that the issue of higher rent 
payments is connected with Ukraine's insistence that it 
conduct an inventory and appraisal of some 5000 "immovable 
assets" leased to Russia in Crimea, as part of its national 
effort to take stock of all governmental property.  Russia 
and Ukraine have held negotiations on the scope and nature of 
the inventory since 2001, and Dorokhin conceded that Ukraine 
wants to expedite the process.  However, he stressed that 
Russia's concerns about the control of access to its military 
base must also be taken into account.  Regardless, Dorokhin 
noted that both the Ukrainian and Russian leadership fully 
understand that the issue of higher rent payments should not 
be discussed until the inventory is completed.  Dorokhin 
cited Ukrainian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir 
Ogryzko's private statements to Moscow that Ukraine will not 
raise the subject of rent payments until the completion of 
the inventory.  (Note: Russia currently pays USD 98 million 
per year.  End note.) 
"Politicians Playing an Unhelpful Role" 
6.  (C) Dorokhin complained that politicians in Ukraine and 
Russia are politicizing a technical issue.  In the lead up to 
the parliamentary elections in Ukraine and Russia, 
politicians in both countries have made numerous "unhelpful 
and inflammatory" statements about the presence of Russian 
military forces on Ukrainian territory.  Dorokhin 
characterized the strong rhetoric as unhelpful, although he 
recognized that th
e legal status of Crimea and the Black Sea 
Fleet are "hot political issues" in both countries.  Despite 
the political appeal, Dorokhin assured us that the executive 
leaderships in Russia and Ukraine remain calm and objective 
about the status of the Black Sea Fleet.  Dorokhin observed 
that senior Russian and Ukrainian officials "correctly view" 
the Black Sea Fleet issue as relatively minor compared to 
"more fundamental bilateral problems," such as Ukraine's 
entry into NATO and the World Trade Organization (prior to 
Russia) and the official status of the Russian language in 
Ukraine (reftel). 
Status of Black Sea Fleet Beyond 2017 
7.  (C) Dorokhin stressed that the official position of 
Russia and Ukraine is that the status of the Black Sea Fleet 
beyond the previously agreed upon withdrawal date of 2017 
will remain off the discussion table "for the foreseeable 
future."  Noting that there are still 10 years left before 
the current agreement expires, Dorokhin insisted that both 
Russian and Ukrainian officials want to avoid further 
complicating an already complicated issue.  He acknowledged 
that President Putin has made recent press statements 
indicating that Russia would be interested in maintaining the 
fleet in Sevastopol beyond 2017, but Dorokhin maintained that 
Putin has instructed the MFA not to put any pressure on 
Ukraine over the renewal of the fleet's lease agreement until 
he directs otherwise. 
8.  (C) Dorokhin added that Russia's long-term goal is to set 
up the naval base in Novorossiysk by 2020 and convert the 
Novorossiysk naval base into its main naval base in the Black 
Sea.  He stressed that these are Russia's working plans, 
regardless of the status of Russia's naval base in Sevastopol 
beyond 2017.  If Ukraine agrees to renew the lease in 
Sevastopol, the Novorossiysk naval base would still serve as 
the primary naval base in the Black Sea.  Given Ukraine's 
"dramatic shift to the West," Dorokhin noted that Russian 
leadership is focused on setting up a Black Sea naval base on 
its own territory. 
9.  (C) The Russian MFA is sticking with the story that its 
diplomat's comments regarding the Black Sea Fleet and the Big 
Treaty were taken out of context, and from Russia's 
perspective, the issue has been put to rest.  Despite 
tensions in bilateral relations that bubble to the surface, 
the GOR continues to put a positive spin on its engagement 
with Ukraine. 


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