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06DUSHANBE1296 2006-07-12 11:35:00 SECRET Embassy Dushanbe
Cable title:  

RUMSFELD VISIT AND RUSSIA - WHO'S ON THE SIDE OF THE

Tags:   PREL PGOV MARR TI 
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					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 001296 

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SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 7/12/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR TI
SUBJECT: RUMSFELD VISIT AND RUSSIA - WHO'S ON THE SIDE OF THE
ANGELS?


DUSHANBE 00001296 001.2 OF 002


CLASSIFIED BY: Richard Hoagland, Ambassador, EXEC, State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)





1. (S) Russian Charge Viacheslav Svetlichny was the first
diplomat to seek a readout of Secretary Rumsfeld's visit to
Tajikistan and his meeting with President Rahmonov. The
Ambassador joked with him on July 12 that Svetlichny must surely
already have a near-verbatim treatment of the meeting from the
Tajik Minister of Security. That elicited a raised eyebrow from
the Russian. In fact, nothing the Ambassador said was able to
pry from Svetlichny just what Russia is thinking in its apparent
goal to strictly limit the role of the United States in Central
Asia, especially when counternarcotics and counterterrorism
operations are directly in Russia's own interest.



2. (S) The Ambassador said he thought for a long time about
what he could provide that would help the U.S.-Russian bilateral
relationship. He said he concluded that he would share as much
of his notes as possible. Svetlichny almost spilled his coffee
reaching for his notepad.



3. (S) The Ambassador outlined the broad themes of stability in
Afghanistan, counternarcotics, Central Asian relations,
especially at the leadership levels, and Rahmonov's assessment
of Iran's Ahmadinejad. The Ambassador said that Rumsfeld did
not ask for a military base; in fact, the United States is in
the business of closing bases, but the United States continues
to need access to facilities in Central Asia to support
Operation Enduring Freedom. Specifically, the United States is
interested in search and rescue, refueling and logistical
capabilities. While overflight and emergency refueling
agreements are already in place between the United States and
Tajikistan, there is a need for more space for refueling
operations and transiting materiel and personnel. In short,
Rahmonov's answer, the Ambassador explained, was that now is not
the right time for increased engagement because of the new
status quo in Central Asia. "Times have changed since 2001."



4. (S) Secretary Rumsfeld said he understood Tajikistan's
situation and that each country had to balance its own interests
and decide. The United States understands the pressure
Tajikistan is under and the decision will not change the
U.S.-Tajik relationship or U.S. assistance.



5. (S) Svetlichny thanked the Ambassador for the overview and
said it provided a "different view." Svetlichny said that
considering the closure of Uzbekistan as an option for the
United States, it was "logical" that other countries would bear
more of the burden of supporting Afghan operations. The
Ambassador said it was important to have more than one option,
and he described in detail the limitations of the air facility
at Manas in Kyrgyzstan, based on his personal tour there with
the Commander. The Ambassador said the United States has no
intention of "encircling or threatening Russia," but perhaps it
was naive to believe that Russia would allow these Central Asian
countries to make their own decisions as independent and
sovereign nations.



6. (S) The Ambassador then pushed further, saying he sincerely
hopes for a Central Asia that is stable and prosperous. He said
he would like to see Russia find a way to work with the United
States to help promote policies that benefit the region and

DUSHANBE 00001296 002.2 OF 002


Russia itself in such fields as counternarcotics and terrorism.
As an example, he suggested, making clear he was speaking
unofficially, that in an ideal world, the United States and
Russia should be able to share Ayni Airfield as a visible symbol
of their Presidents' desire to cooperate productively.



7. (S) Svetlichny sought more information on the U.S.
consultations with Tajikistan prior to the meeting. The DCM,
taking notes, asked the Russian Charge to first explain Russia's
advice to Tajikistan. Svetlichny claimed that the Russian
Embassy had received no instructions, but "perhaps" Putin had
put the subject to Rahmonov in Sochi or Minsk or Shanghai.



8. (S) The Ambassador acknowledged that Tajikistan is bound by
its Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other commitments to
consult with member nations before entering into new security
arrangements, but he blasted Russia's "new best friend"
Uzbekistan for flouting their international commitment to the
Eurasia Economic Community to demine the Uzbek-Tajik border and
allow for visa-free travel with neighboring countries. The
Ambassador said that Russia could surely urge Central Asian
countries to do the right thing on a number of issues, using its
weight in regional fora. This is 2006, the Ambassador said, and
important powers should be able to work together in difficult
regions like Central Asia and Afghanistan. "I know that is what
President Bush wants," the Ambassador said. Svetlichny agreed
that President Putin also espouses a cooperative relationship
with the United States. The Ambassador concluded that Presidents
are not gods, but they have angels and devils working beneath
them. He said he hoped his views represented those in both
countries who are on the side of the angels.



9. (S) COMMENT: The Ambassador's briefing may generate
discussion in Moscow. He explicitly said some of his
outside-the-box suggestions were unofficial, based on his
experience in the region. The Ambassador said that one of the
lessons of the Rumsfeld visit was that the United States and
Russia have much work to do to come to a common understanding on
the way forward in Central Asia. President Putin once said
there is "room for everyone in Central Asia." While Tajikistan
may welcome a more robust U.S. presence, the reality for now is
that the limits of this small country's sovereignty are
described in Moscow, not Dushanbe.
HOAGLAND