09MOSCOW2888, PUTIN’S OFFER TO HELP GEORGIA: LESS THAN MEETS THE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MOSCOW2888 2009-11-27 10:08 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1424
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHMO #2888 3311008
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271008Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5510
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 002888 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/27/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV RS GG
SUBJECT: PUTIN'S OFFER TO HELP GEORGIA: LESS THAN MEETS THE 
EYE 
 
REF: GEHRENBECK-WOLF E-MAIL 11/19/09 
 
Classified By: A/Pol M/C David Kostelancik for reasons 1.4 (b), (d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary: In contrast to some media reports about a 
statement from Prime Minister Putin that Russia would be 
willing to help Georgia out of its "dead end," we consider 
the comments to be merely a gesture to try to turn Georgian 
elites away from Saakashvili and that they do not represent a 
change in Russian policy.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C) According to press reports, during an event in honor 
of former Russian FM and PM Yevgeniy Primakov's 80th 
birthday, Prime Minister Putin pledged Russia would help 
Georgia to restore its territorial integrity.  Some, like 
Georgian "Fair Georgia" opposition leader Zurab Noghaideli, 
suggested that Putin has appointed Primakov as chief mediator 
between Russia and Georgia, while others speculated that 
Putin offered to absorb Georgia into a new Soviet Union-like 
entity (Ref).  Georgia's Moscow-based Charge Givi Shugarov 
attended the October 31 reception for Primakov, and told us 
he took near-verbatim notes on Putin's toast.  Unless 
otherwise noted, the following information is derived from 
Shugarov and should be treated accordingly as second-hand 
information. 
 
3.  (C) Shugarov attended the reception for 500 people that 
included Russia's political elite and prominent Georgians in 
Moscow, as well as famous artists and other popular figures 
from Tbilisi. 
 
4.  (C) In his toast in honor of Primakov, Putin noted the 
presence of many members of Georgia's elite, based both in 
Moscow and Tbilisi.  He acknowledged that what he would say 
would not stay in the room.  Russia understood Georgia's 
tragedy and its wish to restore its territorial integrity. 
Putin said that, before the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war, 
he had spoken about this with "Mikhail Nikolayevich."  (Note: 
Shugarov stressed that referring to Georgian President 
Saakashvili by his patronymic was unexpectedly amicable and 
well-mannered.  End note.) 
 
5.  (C) Putin said Saakashvili had asked him to help.  Putin 
replied that Russia was willing to help, but that Georgia 
needed to start speaking directly with Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia first.  If Georgia would not agree to be Russia's 
strategic partner, why should Russia help? 
 
6.  (C) Putin then asked Saakashvili where Georgia was 
heading, saying "they" (Note: Shugarov took this to imply the 
U.S.  End Note) would station missiles in Georgia without 
asking, which would be "more than a mistake." 
 
7.  (C) Turning to the present, Putin said that Georgia was 
in a dead end now, but that there was a way out.  He said 
Russia would help Georgia, especially as long as there were 
people like Georgia-friendly Primakov.  In contrast to media 
reports, Shugarov did not take that statement to mean that 
Putin was appointing Primakov to handle the issue.  His 
assessment was that Putin's comments come nowhere close to 
the meaning or implications that the media are now assigning 
to them. 
 
8.  (C) Comment: Putin's address appears to have been a 
carefully choreographed event, given that the audience was 
carefully chosen to include Georgian society leaders, 
including from Tbilisi, and that Putin stressed he expected 
his comments to be leaked.  As Putin's offer contained no 
specifics, it is possible Putin wanted to influence Tbilisi 
political and societal circles' views of Moscow and weaken 
domestic support for Saakashvili.  Putin's derogatory remarks 
about the November 19 Saakashvili-Yushchenko meeting in Yalta 
suggest that, at least officially, Putin remains abrasive 
toward the Georgian political leadership.  End Comment. 
Beyrle

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