07MOSCOW4307, RUSSIA/GEORGIA: BAKRADZE VISIT FAILS TO EASE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW4307 2007-08-31 13:51 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO5660
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #4307/01 2431351
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 311351Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3484
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 004307 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/31/2017 
TAGS: PREL PBTS MARR MOPS OSCE GG RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA/GEORGIA:  BAKRADZE VISIT FAILS TO EASE 
TENSIONS 
 
REF: MOSCOW 4008 (EXDIS) 
 
Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Alice G. Wells.  Reason:  1 
.4 (b, d) 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1. (C) Russian MFA South Ossetia negotiator Yuriy Popov told 
us August 31 that visiting Georgian State Minister Bakradze 
did not hit it off well with DFM Karasin.  The Russians 
appear to take Bakradze seriously.  Popov worried that the 
planned "Peace March" to Tskhinvali could elicit a 
provocative military response from the "unreliable" Kokoity. 
Popov thought this might scupper the planned JCC meeting in 
September; he will travel to Georgia late next week.  Popov 
thought the Georgian arrest of two North Ossetian 
peacekeepers was another provocation that could cause a harsh 
reaction in the North Caucasus.  He reiterated that Russia 
would like to return South Ossetia to Georgia as they are 
"expensive clients," but admitted that there are strong 
forces in Russia that want to recognize South Ossetia, in 
part to "challenge" Washington, if Kosovo achieves 
independence.  END SUMMARY. 
 
"Only Moderately Offensive" 
--------------------------- 
 
2. (C) Popov said he had dropped out of DFM Karasin's August 
30 meeting with Georgian State Minister for Conflict 
Resolution Bakradze and Manjgaladze.  He had to make room 
Deputy Security Council Secretary Nazarov and one of his 
deputies, Kolesnikov.  But he had learned the discussion was 
not productive.  "We recognize that we have to talk with them 
and not pretend that they don't exist," he said.  But Karasin 
and Bakradze had "widely different approaches," and did not 
hit it off in this, their first meeting since Bakradze 
assumed the Ministry.  Karasin appeared to understand that 
Bakradze is a serious player, describing him as 
"intelligent," "with a strong grasp of detail," and "only 
moderately offensive." 
 
3. (C) Underlying the meeting's fruitlessness was Russian 
sensitivity over the August 6 bombing incident in 
Tsitelubani, Georgia.  Popov said the U.S. "knows as well as 
 
SIPDIS 
we do that this was a Georgian plane."  We assured him that 
it would be impossible to convince the USG that the plane was 
not Russian, but our aim is not to politicize the incident: 
rather, our goals are to prevent a repetition of such 
provocations while getting the normalization of 
Georgian-Russian relations back on track. 
 
The Immediate Train-Wrecks... 
----------------------------- 
 
4, (C) Popov was not sanguine about progress.  Karasin and 
Bakradze agreed that the Joint Coordinating Commission 
plenary should go ahead as scheduled in Tbilisi in September. 
 But Popov thought the meeting would be derailed once again. 
He said the Georgian-organized "Peace March" to Tskhinvali 
would produce a harsh reaction from South Ossetian leader 
Kokoity, including the cancellation of the JCC and 
re-emplacement of roadblocks to block movement along highways 
used by Georgians to reach the areas of South Ossetia they 
administer.  He said Russia had previously prevailed upon 
Kokoity to cancel a provocative military parade he had 
planned for an anniversary in September; Kokoity was planning 
to import hardware from outside the zone of conflict for the 
march.  If the Georgian-organized "peace march" goes ahead, 
Kokoity may renege on his word.  Karasin is sending Popov to 
Tbilisi and Tskhinvali next week to calm the situation down 
(Abkhazia negotiator Chernov will also go, but later; South 
Ossetia is considered the more dangerous for the moment). 
 
5. (C) Popov also complained about the Georgian detention of 
two North Ossetian members of the Joint Peace-Keeping Force 
on charges of taking part in kidnappings.  Popov claimed the 
OSCE mission had determined the men were not involved, but 
the Georgians were still holding them -- sheer provocation, 
in the Russian view.  Worse, Popov had been receiving "harsh" 
telephone calls on the issue from Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia. 
 Popov implied that the arrests could produce a strong 
reaction in Russia's restive North Caucasus. 
 
6. (C) Popov expressed dislike for Kokoity, saying the 
Russian MFA view is that he is unreliable and erratic. 
However, Kokoity has strong supporters in Moscow, some 
motivated by "material interests," others by political.  He 
said that in his view, Russia wants to unburden itself of 
South Ossetia and leave these "expensive clients" to Georgia. 
 He reiterated his preferred scenario for bringing this about 
 
MOSCOW 00004307  002 OF 002 
 
 
(reftel). 
 
...And The Big One Looming 
-------------------------- 
 
7. (C) Popov recognized that Kosovo could derail all his 
hopes.  He said that some in Moscow are pushing for 
recognition of South Ossetia, should Kosovo achieve 
independence.  The primary motivation of recognition would be 
to "challenge" Washington. 
 
Burns

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