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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06MOSCOW6358 2006-06-15 05:04:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
Cable title:  

U.S.-RUSSIA TALKS ON THE CAUCASUS

Tags:   PREL MARR MOPS OSCE GG AM AJ RS 
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VZCZCXRO9539
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #6358/01 1660504
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 150504Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7616
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 006358 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/15/2016
TAGS: PREL MARR MOPS OSCE GG AM AJ RS
SUBJECT: U.S.-RUSSIA TALKS ON THE CAUCASUS

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Daniel A. Russell. Reason 1.4 (
b, d)

SUMMARY
--------



1. (C) DAS Kramer accompanied by the DCM called on Russian
MFA Fourth CIS Department Director (DAS equivalent) Andrey
Kelin June 13 to discuss Caucasus issues. (Kramer met
subsequently one-on-one with DFM Karasin on other regional
agenda items.) Kramer pushed Kelin hard on Russia's support
for separatism in South Ossetia. Kelin denied annexationist
aspirations and said Russia's two goals for the breakaway
province are to avoid renewed fighting and provide
humanitarian assistance. Kelin hoped to avoid a worst-case
outcome from the Putin-Saakashvili meeting scheduled for
later that day. Kramer and Kelin praised U.S.-Russian
cooperation on Nagorno-Karabakh. Kramer cautioned Kelin
regarding public statements affecting U.S. interests at the
upcoming SCO summit. End Summary.

SCO
---



2. (C) DAS Kramer led off a June 13 meeting with Kelin by
reiterating the U.S. position on the upcoming summit of the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Kramer urged that there
be no repetition of last year's call for a deadline for the
withdrawal of U.S. bases from Central Asia. He also hoped
the SCO would not become a platform for unhelpful statements
by Iranian President Ahmadi-Nejad. Kelin replied that he
would pass Kramer's comments on to FM Lavrov, who would begin
preparing for the SCO meeting when he returned from St.
Petersburg.

Georgia-Russia and Saakashvili-Putin


--------------------------





3. (C) Kelin promised to get Kramer a readout of the meeting,
scheduled for later that day, between the Russian and
Georgian Presidents. Kelin said Russia had prepared
"constructively" through meetings with Georgia's Abkhazia
negotiator Alasania and DFM Antadze. Kelin did not, however,
think that positions had been bridged. He complained that
Georgia, the "feebler" interlocutor, was not coming to Russia
hat in hand, but rather "giving us the chance to make peace
with it."



4. (C) Kelin said the Georgians wanted from the meeting a
joint statement recognizing South Ossetia as part of Georgia.
Russia believed that was putting the cart before the horse.
In negotiations on Kosovo and Cyprus, the parties started
with confidence-building measures, demilitarization, and
economic rehabilitation. Only then could they discuss
status. The Joint Control Commission (JCC) was trying to
combine the peace plans of Saakashvili and Kokoity, which
contained common elements. The JCC meeting in May had
created a group to discuss modalities. Russia was trying to
convene another JCC meeting, the 50th, in Tbilisi. But the
Georgians were floating proposals for alternative negotiating
mechanisms, and this showed they were "not very serious."



5. (C) Kramer responded that the June 1 statement by Russia's
foreign ministry appeared to move away from Russia's previous
support for Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
What did Russia have against supporting Georgian territorial
integrity? Kelin said that the principles of "territorial
integrity" and "self-determination" had been vying with one
another since 1917, with one or the other dominating at any
given time. Every settlement depended upon a "mixture" of
these principles, and the balance varied. Asked why the June
1 statement called into question the legality of Georgia's
territorial integrity, Kelin said there were no treaties
fixing borders in the South Caucasus. Russia was still
negotiating its borders with Azerbaijan.



6. (C) Kramer responded that border demarcation is one thing;
calling into question the sovereignty and territorial
integrity of an entire country is very different. The U.S.
had always recognized Russia's territorial integrity in the
face of Chechen separatism. In contrast, the totality of
Russia's actions left the impression in Washington that
Russia supported separatism and even annexation. Kramer
cited Russian actions to unify North and South Ossetian TV
broadcasting, the telephone system, and gas pipelines.



7. (C) Kelin quoted Putin as saying that Russia had no
aspiration to join to Russia any part of any other country.
Kelin asserted that Russia only wanted its interlocutors to
deal realistically with South Ossetia's refusal to be part
of Georgia. Russia had two goals. The first was to prevent
renewed fighting and bloodshed. Kelin noted that Russia's

MOSCOW 00006358 002 OF 003


PKF had not been augmented and stood at 500 personnel.
Second, Russia would help South Ossetia economically. It
would announce nearly USD 3 million in humanitarian
assistance at the June 14 Donors Conference.



8. (C) Kramer detailed the involvement of Russian citizens
and officials in the South Ossetian government. Kelin
replied that "the State Department should not be so
suspicious," though he admitted that "PM" Morozov was from
Kursk. Kramer reiterated that Russian actions run counter to
the two goals Kelin had outlined, and which the U.S. shared.
He asked Russia to take into account the impression its
actions left in Tbilisi, whose suspicions grew as a
consequence. Both the U.S. and Russia wanted stability,
Kramer said, and we could therefore not understand why Russia
took actions that were provocative and could lead to
violence. Kramer suggested that Putin could use his meeting
with Saakashvili to reassure Georgia on Russia's position on
sovereignty and territorial integrity.



9. (C) Kelin responded that Russia also looked at the
impressions Georgian actions left in the North Caucasus,
which was full of "very militant personalities." Georgia was
arming. It now had four brigades trained by the U.S., the
largest in Gori, near South Ossetia. Every day they stopped
peacekeepers instead of facilitating their work. Now the
Georgians had put two new demands on the table after fifteen
years: that the PKF receive Georgian visas and change their
itinerary to enter their zone of operations. Kelin
reiterated that Russia cannot accept Georgian demands on
visas, which are part of the Georgian strategy to "chase" the
peacekeepers out of the country. "Until the Georgians settle
with South Ossetia on terms acceptable to both sides," he
vowed, "we will not leave."



10. (C) Kramer warned that instability in the South Caucasus
could spill over into the North. He noted that the
"presidents" of three separatist entities were holding a
meeting in Sukhumi. The reception the separatists received
from the Russian government sent the wrong message. Kelin
noted that the three "presidents" might issue a statement
forming their own "commonwealth," but "this does not make us
happy." Kramer asked whether, if indeed it did not make
Russia happy, Russia would make a statement discouraging such
a development. After some waffling, Kelin said he would
think about it, but noted that the conflicts were all at
different stages of resolution. Kelin noted that Azerbaijan
had protested an exhibition booth at which the
Nagorno-Karabakh authorities hung their flag. "Because we
have good relations with Azerbaijan," Russia had taken
measures to meet Azerbaijan's concerns. But "hearing
nastiness every day from Tbilisi," Russia was not in a mood
to meet Georgian concerns.



11. (C) Kramer asked whether Russia gave regions of other
countries the same reception it gave to the separatist
"presidents." Kelin replied that Russia would meet with
Akhalkalaki Armenians, if asked, because the Russian base
there had been the sole employer in the region. He noted
that the ethnic Azeris of Georgia's Kvemo Kartli region also
feel "abandoned." Kramer asked why Russia received Abkhaz
and South Ossetian leaders Bagapsh and Kokoity as presidents.
Kelin replied that "this is our small play with Georgia."
Kramer responded that it was not a game, but a serious
matter. Russia should avoid such actions -- especially in
support of criminal regimes such as Kokoity's -- and calm
Tbilisi's suspicions.



12. (C) Turning to Abkhazia, Kramer called the revival of
the Coordinating Council an encouraging step. Kelin agreed,
but noted that the three working groups had not formed, owing
to the Georgian inclusion of the Defense Minister of the
Abkhazia government-in-exile on the delegation.



13. (C) At the end of the discussion on Georgia, Kelin summed
up the state of Russian-Georgian relations. He hoped for
better cooperation and better relations. Much more would
then be possible. Relations would only get worse if
Saakashvili tried to push "something radical" at the G-8.
Even with a good Putin-Saakashvili meeting, prospects of a
Putin visit to Georgia were remote for now. "Too many things
stand between us," Kelin said. He outlined a worst-case
scenario: Saakashvili emerges from his meeting with Putin
and announces that he had been unable to achieve any Russian
concessions on the PKO in South Ossetia. The Georgian
Parliament and Government adopt a resolution to expel the
Russian PKO, but Russia's peacekeepers "won't move." Then,
in July, the process is repeated on the Abkhazia PKO, and
again Russia does not move. "By August," he continued,
"tensions would be rising very high."

Nagorno-Karabakh

MOSCOW 00006358 003 OF 003




--------------------------





14. (C) Kramer praised U.S.-Russian cooperation on
Nagorno-Karabakh. He mentioned A/S Fried's positive
impressions of his trip to the region with DFM Karasin, and
said it was an example of what Russia and the U.S. could
accomplish together. Kelin agreed, and asked for U.S. views
on next steps after the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign
ministers met in Paris. Russian negotiator Merzlyakov had
reported little new progress and warned against raising
expectations for quick results. Kramer and Kelin agreed that
there was not enough new progress to take to the G-8 Summit.
Kramer suggested that a discussion at the G-8 Ministerial
would be appropriate, along with a short statement that
demonstrated the commitment of all G-8 members, not just the
Co-Chair countries. Kelin was encouraging, but made no
promises. He said that it was now up to the sides to make
progress.

Comment


--------------------------





15. (C) Kelin's words on self-determination are the new
Russian line on conflicts. They capitalize on Western
acceptance of self-determination for Montenegro and Kosovo.
Kelin's stress on stability echoes what Moscow observers have
said of Russian strategy for the CIS and "frozen conflicts:"
that Russian policy clings to the status quo, preferring a
permanent freeze to either resolution or renewal of fighting.
Kelin implied that this was to satisfy domestic political
concerns, i.e., the identity politics of ethnic kin of
Ossetians and Abkhaz in Russia's restive North Caucasus
region. Kelin was more frank than most Russians about games
Russia is playing to irritate Georgia, putatively in response
to Georgian "nastiness." His hints about the Armenians of
Samtskhe-Javakheti and the Azeris of Kvemo Kartli echo calls
by Moscow's chattering class to "activate" those communities
against Georgia (something both Armenia and Azerbaijan have
always tried to discourage).


BURNS