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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW561 2008-02-29 07:37 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow


DE RUEHMO #0561/01 0600737
O 290737Z FEB 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000561 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/28/2018 
Classified By: Political M/C Alice G. Wells.  Reasons 1.4 (B/D). 
1.  (C) Summary.  The uncertainty of Kosovo and the lure of 
meeting heir apparent Dmitriy Medvedev brought all 12 CIS 
leaders to Moscow for the February 21-22 CIS Informal Summit. 
 While the MFA pitched a new seriousness in its approach to 
the CIS, Putin used the summit to introduce Medvedev and 
level harsh criticism against the West's decision to 
recognize Kosovo's independence.  Medvedev assured the CIS 
leaders that his foreign policy will follow the path laid by 
Putin.  Among the many bilaterals -- Putin with Voronin, 
Saakashvili, Aliyev, Bakiyev and Rakhmon, -- the most notable 
was Putin-Saakashvili meeting, which continued a trend to 
improved Russia-Georgia relations with the promise of direct 
flights between the two capitals resuming by early April. 
End summary. 
Twelve Smiling Men 
2.  (C) Russian officials were pleased with the full house at 
the February 21-22 CIS Informal Summit, which First DFM 
Denisov used to caution against hurriedly burying the CIS. 
In a February 21 interview, Denisov maintained that the 
strength of the organization lay in its flexible and less 
structured form, which provided a forum to discuss and solve 
problems encountered by the former Soviet republics.  For 
this reason, he added, all twelve states have continued to 
participate in the organization, even those which have 
frequently indicated they would depart, such as Georgia and 
Ukraine.  MFA Third CIS Department Director Maksim Peshkov 
told us February 26 that the GOR was pleased with the results 
of the summit.  The presence of all twelve leaders had 
occurred only rarely in recent years. (Press reports 
highlighted Yushchenko's two Moscow visits in as many weeks; 
Kocharian's attendance despite an unsettled domestic 
situation in the wake of presidential elections; and 
Bakiyev's effort to attend despite an immediate follow-on 
travel to Seoul for Lee Myung Bak's inauguration.)  MFA 
Second CIS Director Viktor Sorokin echoed Peshkov, telling us 
February 27 that the CIS had finally come into its own as an 
"as-needed" organization with no political agenda, but a 
focus on problems shared by participating countries.  The 
membership was voluntary with no political pressure to stay 
in or out, he added.  The two-day photo op produced little 
substance but many smiling faces, creating the illusion that 
the CIS, after years of public disharmony, was back. 
Kosovo: Double-edged Sword 
3.  (U) Commentators attributed the full house to tension 
over the possible consequences (Russia's reactions) to 
Kosovo's independence, as well as the formal unveiling of 
First DPM Medvedev.  With none of the CIS members having 
recognized Kosovo, Putin was able to use the gathering to 
lash out against the West's decision on Kosovo, warning of a 
"whole chain of unpredictable consequences."  He termed 
Kosovo's independence a double-edged sword whose second edge 
will strike the faces of Kosovo's supporters. 
Plus, the Next Putin 
Plus, the Next Putin 
4.  (U) While introducing his anointed successor, Putin 
declared that the CIS was Russia's clear and unchangeable 
priority, justified not only by the common past of its 
members, but by a future that will continue to bind them 
together.  He advised the other CIS leaders to devise country 
development strategies to 2020 as he had done for Russia.  A 
seemingly relaxed Medvedev parroted Putin's line, 
reiterating, "In our countries and among our peoples, there 
is no alternative to longer-term cooperation."  Putin had 
promised that under Medvedev there would be no 
"revolutionary" change in Russia's foreign policy, and gave 
Medvedev credit for having authored many of the CIS policies 
currently being implemented.  Medvedev proposed that a CIS 
emergency fund as well as a plan for a union-wide 
transportation network be on the agenda at this year's 
Bishkek summit. 
5.  (C) With Central Asian and Caucasus countries evidently 
in mind, Putin emphasized Russia's resolve to tackle 
xenophobia.  The issue was touched on in bilaterals with 
Bakiyev, Aliyev and Rakhmon.  With seven Kyrgyz citizens 
murdered in Russia in the previous five weeks, GOR officials 
noted that Bakiyev was particularly interested in receiving 
GOR assurances on a crackdown against xenophobia.  According 
to Sorokin, the Putin-Voronin meeting affirmed the GOR's 
determination to keep channels of communication open 
regardless of the "destructive influence" of Kosovo.  The 
Putin-Saakashvili bilateral also revolved around the 
implications of Kosovo, with Saakashivili mainly concerned 
about possible GOR action on frozen conflicts in the 
Caucasus.  Putin stressed that all would depend on the GOG. 
The two presidents agreed to resume direct flights and postal 
service between Russia and Georgia, ease visa restrictions, 
and reconsider trade sanctions (more details septel).  Putin 
and Yushchenko, who had  met February 12-13 duri
ng the 
Intergovernmental Commission session (septel), did not have a 
separate bilateral during the Summit. 
6.  (C) Despite the rhetoric, we expect no dramatic change in 
the GOR's approach to the CIS.  Vast economic disparities and 
different geopolitical orientations mean that the CIS 
structure provides little unifying force.  Instead, it will 
serve the GOR's need to periodically exert its influence in 
the former Soviet space while Russia's increasing economic 
power will likely make the union more attractive to its other 


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