Daily Archives: July 14, 2009

09MOSCOW1804, EXPERT TELLS ASD VERSHBOW GOR HAS CHANGED ATTITUDE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MOSCOW1804 2009-07-14 08:46 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6593
RR RUEHDBU RUEHSL
DE RUEHMO #1804/01 1950846
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 140846Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4254
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001804 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/09/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PARM MARR MCAP MNUC RS
SUBJECT: EXPERT TELLS ASD VERSHBOW GOR HAS CHANGED ATTITUDE 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John R. Beyrle.  Reasons 1.4 (a), (b), (d), ( 
f), and (h). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  PIR Center Director Vladimir Orlov told ASD 
Vershbow on July 8 that the attempts to reset U.S.-Russia 
relations, culminating in the July 6-8 summit, had improved 
the GOR's attitude toward the United States.  He expressed 
optimism that genuine U.S.-Russia cooperation would be 
possible on many issues, including arms control, missile 
defense, and Iran.  The GOR might even support tougher UN 
sanctions against Iran if Russia and the U.S. enjoyed good 
relations.  He added that only a minority of Russians 
believed an improvement in U.S.-Iran relations would be 
detrimental to Russian interests.  End Summary. 
 
------------------------------- 
We Have Reset, Now Must Upgrade 
------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) Center for Political Research (PIR Center) Director 
Vladimir Orlov told Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander 
Vershbow in a July 8 meeting that President Obama's "reset 
button" and subsequent engagement with Russia, including the 
July 6-8 summit, succeeded in changing the mood of the GOR. 
Although the MOD was lagging behind somewhat, he noted it was 
now easier for Russian think tanks to talk to GOR officials 
and exchange ideas.  He said that President Obama's holistic 
approach toward Russia, as opposed to the previous 
administration's tendency to selectively engage with Russia, 
was greatly appreciated by the GOR.  Now that President Obama 
has successfully "reset" U.S.-Russia relations, it was time 
to "upgrade" them.  Orlov cautioned, however, that just as 
newly released computer software initially has glitches that 
need to be fixed, so would U.S.-Russia relations. 
 
3. (C) Orlov said that one year ago he was skeptical the U.S. 
and Russia would be able to find common ground and cooperate 
on much of anything.  He added that he thought it would take 
a long time to overcome the damage to the U.S.-Russia 
relationship that was done during the previous 
administration.  While admitting that there would be future 
challenges in the U.S.-Russia relationship, such as possibly 
Ukraine or Georgia, the GOR had been "instructed to be 
constructive," as both Medvedev and President Obama sought 
success stories.  He said such constructive engagement could 
lay the groundwork for a successful Nonproliferation Treaty 
review conference in 2010.  "This is not just a technical 
meeting," he said, adding that failure at that conference 
would harm the future of arms control. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
START Follow-On Agreement a Modest Step 
--------------------------------------- 
 
4. (C) Orlov called the START Follow-On document signed by 
POTUS and Medvedev a "modest, but necessary step." 
Completing negotiations before December 5 would be difficult, 
as many outstanding issues were contentious.  The financial 
crisis had helped efforts to reach an agreement, however, 
because it had shown the GOR just how interconnected the U.S. 
and Russia were. 
 
------------------------------------ 
Missile Defense Cooperation Possible 
------------------------------------ 
 
5. (C) Orlov praised President Obama's "realistic" approach 
toward missile (MD) cooperation.  He said that, while 
cooperating on the use of the Gabala radar site was still 
possible, many Russian conservatives were concerned the U.S. 
would still deploy elements of an MD system in Poland and the 
Czech Republic, causing much debate in the GOR on MD 
cooperation with the United States. 
 
--------------------- 
Russia-Iran Relations 
--------------------- 
 
6. (C) Orlov argued that Russia took nuclear proliferation 
threats seriously.  The GOR considered Pakistan to be the 
biggest proliferation threat, followed by the DPRK, with Iran 
a tertiary concern, according to Orlov.  He said many Russian 
analysts believed Iran would move forward with its research 
and get close to obtaining a nuclear weapon, but would not 
cross that threshold unless it thought it was necessary for 
 
MOSCOW 00001804  002 OF 002 
 
 
its security. 
 
7. (C) The GOR was willing to cooperate with the U.S. on 
Iran, Orlov said, and pointed to Russia's refusal to activate 
the Bushehr nuclear reactor on June 30 as an example of this. 
 He added that Russia was impressed by the language used in 
President Obama's inauguration speech, in which President 
Obama said the U.S. would extend its hand if (Iran) 
unclenched its fist.  Orlov expressed his hope that President 
Obama's offer was still on the table. 
 
8. (C) Orlov posited that tougher UN sanctions against Iran 
would not correct Tehran's behavior, but the GOR migh
t 
support such a move if relations between the U.S. and Russia 
were good.  Many Russians, he said, had business interests in 
the region, and did not want to see a war erupt in Iran. 
Orlov admitted, however, that Iran was not one of Russia's 
major trading partners.  Military sales to Iran, he said, 
were largely political, rather than commercial in nature, and 
therefore could be cut if politics required it. 
 
-------------------------- 
U.S.-Iran-Russia Relations 
-------------------------- 
 
9. (C) Orlov called the notion that a U.S.-Iran rapprochement 
would harm Russian interests in the region a "minority view." 
 Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Prikhodko, for example, 
advocated helping the U.S. with Iran and was "fed up" with 
Iran's "schemes."  Most Russians wanted a peaceful, stable 
Middle East, and did not approve of Iran causing unrest in 
the region.  There was a window of opportunity to cooperate 
on Iran now, he said. 
 
10. (U) ASD Vershbow cleared this cable. 
BEYRLE

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