10MOSCOW261, U.S.-RUSSIA ENVIRONMENT WORKING GROUP: ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10MOSCOW261 2010-02-04 13:43 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6117
PP RUEHAST RUEHDBU RUEHDH RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHSK
RUEHSL RUEHTRO RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #0261/01 0351343
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 041343Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6154
INFO RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG PRIORITY 5602
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK PRIORITY 3472
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG PRIORITY 3815
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAEPA/HQ EPA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDC/NOAA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHFJBRQ/NSF POLAR WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DTRA CT WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DTRA ALEX WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEANAT/NASA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MOSCOW 000261 
 
STATE FOR EUR/RUS, OES/PCI, EUR/PGI 
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USAID/E&E 
INTERIOR FOR KIM MAGRAW 
INTERIOR PLEASE PASS TO NPS, FWS, AND USGS 
FWS FOR STEVE KOHL, JANET HOHN, GEOFF HASKETT 
NPS FOR SUE MASICA AND RUDY D'ALESSANDRO 
NOAA FOR RENEE TATUSKO AND JENNIFER DUPONT 
OSTP FOR JOAN ROLF 
USDA FOR FAS/OCRA NINA HORGAN 
 
SIPDIS 
SENSITIVE 
AIDAC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SENV PREL ECON TSPL SOCI EFIS KGLB RS
SUBJECT: U.S.-RUSSIA ENVIRONMENT WORKING GROUP: ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY 
POSITIVE, BUT SEEKS MORE DETAILS ON U.S. DRAFT AGENDA 
 
REF: A. 09 MOSCOW 3013 (NOTAL) 
 B. 09 MOSCOW 2538 (NOTAL) 
 
MOSCOW 00000261  001.2 OF 004 
 
 
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED -- PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY. 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On January 27, officials of the Russian Ministry 
of Natural Resources and Ecology (MNRE) gave their initial reaction 
to the U.S.-proposed agenda for the Environment Working Group of the 
Bilateral Presidential Commission.  They suggested that OES DAS 
Daniel Reifsnyder head a USG delegation to Moscow in March for the 
first Working Group meeting.  They warmly accepted a proposal for 
cooperation on management of mercury and other toxic chemicals -- 
and were particularly eager to learn from the U.S. Superfund 
experience -- and they promised a more detailed proposal soon.  They 
cautioned that accelerating cooperation on a Beringia shared 
cross-border protected area should wait until Russia creates a 
federal park in Chukotka, a process that has dragged on longer than 
expected.  They were open to discussing the other proposals on the 
USG list, but asked for further clarification on most of them.  They 
did not embrace the idea of interagency and multidisciplinary 
cooperation on issues like climate change and illegal logging, but 
preferred to focus on the particular aspects of these issues that 
fall under their own ministry's jurisdiction.  END SUMMARY. 
 
------------------------------------------- 
Working Group Meeting Time and Participants 
------------------------------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) On January 27, Igor Zotov, Deputy International Relations 
Director, and Andrey Peshkov, Head of the Office of Cooperation in 
the area of Nuclear Industry Safety and Waste, of the International 
Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 
(MNRE) gave us their initial reaction to the USG's proposed agenda 
for cooperation under the Environment Working Group (EWG) of the 
Bilateral Presidential Commission.  Zotov said that Deputy Minister 
Igor Maydanov has designated him as MNRE's chief point of contact on 
the Environment Working Group.  The Russian side will determine its 
participants once the EWG agenda is agreed.  Responding to Under 
Secretary for Global Affairs Maria Otero's letter to Minister 
Maydanov, they tentatively agreed to a mid-March visit by OES DAS 
Daniel Reifsnyder.  They hoped that Under Secretary Otero could 
visit Moscow in April for an initial meeting of the Working Group 
co-chairs.  They noted that the Russian government schedule in May 
would be too busy for such a meeting. 
 
------------------ 
Arctic Cooperation 
------------------ 
 
3. (SBU) Regarding the proposed Beringia cross-border joint 
protected area, Zotov and Peshkov said that Russia is still 
conducting environmental feasibility studies on establishment of a 
federal park on the Russian side of the Bering Strait.  (NOTE: The 
MNRE department responsible for national parks -- not represented at 
this meeting -- had predicted last September that these studies 
would be finished by December 2009 - ref. B.  END NOTE.)  They said 
the Beringia proposal is very attractive and should not be rushed. 
Our interlocutors indicated that we need to wait until these studies 
are finished before agreeing on concrete steps to increase future 
 
MOSCOW 00000261  002.2 OF 004 
 
 
cooperation.  In view of FM Lavrov and Secretary Clinton's interest 
in the topic, they agreed to check on when the feasibility study is 
expected to be completed and will aim to tell us more in the coming 
days.  In response to our question, they agreed to verify that April 
would be a propitious time for an anticipated visit of National Park 
Service officials to discuss the protected area.  (NOTE: We 
described the difference in urgency between the MFA and MNRE on 
January 28 t
o MFA North America Department Bilateral Affairs Office 
Counselor Azar Dzhioyev, who seemed frustrated that MNRE had not 
provided the MFA with any reaction to the U.S. proposal for the EWG. 
 He took on board the suggestion that it would be useful for MFA to 
clarify the timing for Russian government designation.  END NOTE.) 
 
4. (SBU) On the proposal for cooperation on salmon river 
conservation, MNRE proposed redefining this area as "conservation of 
rare and endangered salmonids [as defined under Russian 
endangered-species legislation] and their spawning grounds," as 
these are the only types of salmon and salmon habitat over which 
MNRE has jurisdiction.  Commercial fish and fisheries fall under the 
Federal Fisheries Agency, a separate federal agency.  They requested 
more detail on what specifically the USG has in mind in this area. 
(COMMENT: Limiting this cooperation to only endangered salmonids may 
mostly limit it to joint academic research.  END COMMENT.) 
 
5. (SBU) The Russians are eager to cooperate in the management and 
cleanup of contaminated sites, but they wish to define the issue 
more precisely.  The United States and Russia have cooperated in 
this area under the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission and the Arctic 
Council's Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP).  MNRE is very 
interested in U.S. Superfund experience and hopes our countries can 
realize projects that we began discussing four years ago.  They 
proposed that this cooperation complement existing cooperation 
within ACAP, where a financing mechanism and history of U.S.-Russian 
cooperation in this area already exist.  Peshkov stressed that 
Russia sees the United States as its strategic partner in these 
areas and would like to greatly increase joint activities and 
rebuild a "unified front" in ACAP vis-a-vis other member states 
that, according to Peshkov, do not share our joint vision.  He 
promised to give us concrete proposals for areas of cooperation and 
potential joint funding for joint projects in the coming days.  In 
an aside, Peshkov asked that the United States support renewing 
Russia's -- and specifically his -- chairmanship of ACAP for the 
next two years, noting that the first ACAP Chair, an EPA 
representative, served two terms. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
Chemicals Management and Illegal Logging 
---------------------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) The Russians are eager to cooperate on mercury management 
and promised to give us a more detailed proposal in the coming days, 
including possible joint financing for joint projects.  Peshkov 
stressed that Russia is interested in an equal partnership and 
intends to allocate funds comparable to the U.S. contribution. 
 
7. (SBU) On issues related to the Montreal Protocol and 
chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) phaseout, the Russians prefer to define 
this area in terms of "introducing best available ozone-friendly 
technologies" and are interested in further discussion.  They also 
 
MOSCOW 00000261  003.2 OF 004 
 
 
asked if the Working Group would discuss the Stockholm Convention on 
Persistent Organic Pollutants.  Peshkov requested to add an area for 
discussion: a strategic approach to chemical management that would 
combine commitments under the Basel Convention on the Control of 
Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, the 
Stockholm Convention, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that 
Deplete the Ozone Layer, and the Global Mercury Partnership. 
 
8. (SBU) On issues of illegal logging and forest fires, Zotov and 
Peshkov emphasized that MNRE only has jurisdiction over forests in 
national parks, federal nature preserves, and other federally 
protected lands and the federally designated buffer zones 
surrounding them, which cover a total of around 10 percent of 
Russia's land.  Forested lands that are open to commercial logging 
fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Forestry Agency, part of 
the Ministry of Agriculture.  Zotov and Peshkov insisted that 
cooperation on illegal logging in commercially logged forests must 
take place under the Agriculture Working Group in direct cooperation 
with the Agriculture Ministry.  Nonetheless, they pointed out that 
working to combat illegal logging on federally protected lands and 
buffer zones could be a viable area for cooperation in the EWG, 
since illegal logging is a significant problem there. 
 
------------------------------------ 
Climate Change and Other Cooperation 
------------------------------------ 
 
9. (SBU) Since MNRE's takeover of the state hydrometeorological 
service Roshydromet in the 2008 government shakeup that followed 
President Medvedev's election, MNRE now has jurisdiction over a wide 
spectrum of issues in the area of climate change, including state 
policy on climate change, climate monitoring and research, as well 
as regulating emissions.  However, Peshkov and Zotov said that 
cooperation on alternative energy and energy efficiency must take 
place within the working groups on science and technology or energy. 
 Peshkov did not take on board the suggestion to work jointly with 
these groups. 
 
10. (SBU) In the area of "environmental institutional development," 
the Russians asked that the USG clearly define these terms.  They 
did not understand what was meant by this category and could not 
respond to it.  Peshkov interjected sharply that if this term was 
the U.S. way of criticizing how Russia has organized its 
environmental agencies, that subject is not up for discussion. 
(NOTE: Peshkov himself suggested cooperation in this area in July 
2009 at an environmental roundtable following the presidential 
summit, when he suggested bilateral cooperation on "harmonizing 
environmental legislation and standards."  END NOTE.)  We reassured 
them that we understood this to mean broader issues such as civil 
society engagement in environmental preservation and environmental 
education programs such as GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations 
to Benefit the Environment), but agreed to check. 
 
11. (SBU) On the issue of invasive species, Peshkov and Zotov said 
they were aware of U.S. struggles with invasive Asian carp in the 
Great Lakes; however, they averred that Russia does not have a 
problem with invasive species.  They asked that the U.S. side 
further clarify the topics of wildlife and marine conservation. 
Peshkov suggested that this title be changed to "biodiversity." 
 
MOSCOW 00000261  004.2 OF 004 
 
 
They also asked that "wetlands and watersheds" be further clarified, 
and they asked for further specifics on proposed cooperation in the 
area of transboundary air pollution, though they are in principle 
open to discussion on these topics. 
 
12. (SBU) COMMENT: High-level U.S. contacts with Russian 
environmental policymakers have been rare in recent years as Russia 
has weakened the authority of government agencies that craft 
environmental policy and that enforce enviro
nmental regulations. 
NGOs tell us frankly that there is hardly anyone in the Russian 
government left with whom to work.  MNRE, overwhelmingly focused on 
natural resource extraction, is notorious among Russian government 
agencies for its lack of coordination, with one MFA official calling 
it a "black hole."  For all these reasons, MNRE's cautious response 
was surprisingly positive.  Of our MNRE contacts, Peshkov has shown 
by far the most interest in the Working Group.  Zotov, who is 
unknown in environmental circles, deferred throughout the meeting to 
Peshkov, who came to MNRE from the Federal Service for 
Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision (Rostekhnadzor) 
and is an expert in toxic waste and chemicals management.  These 
areas had the most detailed discussion and were the only areas in 
which MNRE showed unreserved enthusiasm and willingness to counter 
with a detailed proposal for cooperation.  MNRE so far has 
consistently refused to consider joint work with other Russian 
agencies.  Although this view is discouraging and inefficient, MNRE 
is unlikely to change it unless other ministries approach it with 
proposals for joint work.  It is not customary for Russian 
ministries to coordinate with each other.  But the Ministry of 
Agriculture, which has the lead on illegal logging, has already 
shown a willingness to do exactly that.  At the USG's urging, that 
ministry will likely allow representatives from the Ministry of 
Health and Social Development to work on food safety, an approved 
topic for the Agriculture Working Group. 
 
BEYRLE

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