|08USOSCE195||2008-07-24 19:35:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Mission USOSCE|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L USOSCE 000195
1. (C) SUMMARY: During the course of the JCG's January-July
session with 20 weekly meetings, Allies led by the U.S.
repeatedly criticized Russia's instances of noncompliance,
underscored the importance of Russia negotiating seriously on
the basis of the parallel actions package, called on Russia
to return to full implementation of the CFE Treaty, and
supported U.S. negotiating strategies and leadership. While
the Allies most inclined to criticize Russia were Germany,
Britain, Romania and Turkey, the USDel often encouraged a
half dozen or so states to pile on with criticism of Russia
each week, depending on the topic under discussion. For its
part, Russia complained about the European security landscape
status quo, blamed Allies (the U.S. in particular) for the
current crisis, and defended Putin's decision to suspend CFE
2. (C) As the session wore on, Russia increasingly took shots
at the U.S. over the pace of talks, saying there have been
only two U.S.-Russia meetings for negotiations since
late-November 2007. Claiming it has always been ready to
hold talks at more regular intervals, Russia called for
supplementary meetings at lower levels--bilateral and/or with
concerned treaty partners, in Vienna, Brussels, and/or
elsewhere--to support the Fried-Antonov channel. This
culminated in July, with Russia introducing a key topic from
the parallel actions package which does not belong in the
JCG, i.e., Russia's proposed definition of "substantial
3. (C) The U.S. delegation accomplished all JCG-related tasks
assigned. Inter alia, Allied solidarity held publicly in the
JCG, motivated by Allied reporting of Russian non-compliance
and the Allies' program of "focused dialogue" for the JCG,
both buttressed by the 28 March NAC Statement on CFE. At the
same time, seen from the Vienna perspective, Allies privately
are becoming clearly apprehensive over the pace and format of
bilateral negotiations, i.e., they are increasingly
understanding of Russia's unfair allegation that the U.S. is
not negotiating seriously with Russia as evidenced by the
number of meetings. The end of round finds Allies still
solidly in support of the parallel actions package concept,
if unsure of its details. Nonetheless, many Allies, even
Britain, are concerned about Russia's prospects of successful
wedge driving using the pace of the Fried-Antonov talks, and
that some Allies may be tempted to freelance and/or assert a
leadership role in the fall, speculate on what will follow
CFE, or show interest in Medvedev's pan-European security
initiative. Moreover, many Allies are decidedly more
sympathetic to Russia's siren call to draw the U.S. and/or
Allies into "supportive" discussions at lower levels on
elements of the package. End summary.
Opening of Round--Vienna's Supporting Role
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4. (C) The winter round of the JCG opened following Russia's
suspension of implementation of CFE on December 12, 2007,
with the U.S. negotiating the parallel actions package on
behalf of Allies, bilaterally with Russia at the
Fried-Antonov level. The HLTF remained the primary forum for
coordination of Alliance CFE policy, while the JCG assumed a
supporting role, providing a useful venue for highlighting
Russian compliance failures while the U.S. continued
negotiation efforts elsewhere. Specifically, the U.S.
Mission to the OSCE was charged with:
-- Calling Russia out on all acts of non-compliance.
-- Reaffirming the importance of all State Parties to fully
implement the Treaty while urging Russia to reverse its
-- Dissuading others from following Russia's example.
-- Maintaining Allied solidarity in support of U.S.
-- Sustaining previously discussed Allied position on
-- Sustaining U.S. positions on the Treaty Operations
Implementation Working Group.
-- Discussing acts of non-compliance with others (e.g.,
Azerbaijan's exceeding TLE limits.)
The Mission accomplished all of the tasks assigned.
Alliance Solidarity Holds, for Now
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5. (C) Throughout the session, Allied support of U.S.
strategy to resolve the CFE crisis remained steadfast in the
JCG. At the same time, public solidarity belied private
misgivings by some Allies over the lack of progress in the
U.S.-Russian bilateral format. From the outset of the
session Allies remained lockstep, publicly in the JCG, with
the U.S. over core concepts such as the value of CFE, the
importance of Russia returning to full implementation, and
that the parallel actions plan represented the only option
for achieving ratification of ACFE. Allies also consistently
stepped forward to call out Russia for failing to fulfill
their Treaty obligations and in each case, Allies underlined
the importance of the Treaty, to support the parallel actions
package and to urge Russia to return to full implementation
of the CFE Treaty.
6. (C) At the same time, as early as January, Allied
reservations over the format and progress of bilateral
negotiations surfaced in the JCG-T. These misgivings
increased during the course of the session. Germany
(Richter)--as has been the case for two years--was
particularly vocal, lobbying Allies to increase the intensity
of dialogue in Vienna. German attitudes were fueled by
repeated Russian claims in the JCG that the bilateral process
was all but stalled and that supplementary technical
discussions in Brussels or Vienna would support bilateral
7. (C) Occasional Russian compliments on Germany's
willingness to engage in professional dialogue also
encouraged Germany to push the edge of the envelope while
others held a tighter line. Still, Russian rhetoric drew
others into the debate from time to time including
Luxembourg, France and Greece. Acting without instructions,
Luxemburg (Pilot) made an especially unhelpful intervention
in a February JCG-T, recommending that Allies begin to
discuss post-CFE alternatives. While Allied anxiety never
reached unmanageable levels, USDel, the United Kingdom,
Netherlands and others at times had to remind Allies to
withstand the temptation to disaggregate the package by
getting drawn into discussions on specifics.
Calling Out Russia on its non-Compliance
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8. (C) The reservations expressed by some Allies in Vienna at
following a policy of "active patience"--a termed coined by
the United Kingdom (Ford) at the 6 May HLTF--was mitigated,
in part, by consistent Allied reporting of Russian
noncompliance, the energy generated by an orchestrated
program of "focused dialogue," and the endorsement of the 28
March NAC statement by Heads of States and Governments in
Bucharest. Allies were quick to take up the cause of calling
out Russia for its compliance failures. The U.S. took the
lead on this process 8 February, followed by GE, US, GE, HU,
BE, TU, GR, GE, RO and NL and with FR, CA, CZ, GR, IT and SP
also actively participating.
9. (C) By the end of round, Russia had refused 14
inspections, and had failed to provide the 2008 annual data,
quarterly data on Kushchevskaya, and the July "flank" data.
USDel often encouraged a half dozen or more states each week,
depending on the topic under discussion, to pile on with
criticism of Russia. At each infraction, Allies coordinated
a unified response in the JCG-T for the JCG, which consisted
of a primary intervention from the affected party followed by
one or more supportive statements.
"Focused dialogue" and NAC Statement
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
10. (C) Allies also developed a program of "focused
dialogue" to serve as a vehicle to address Russian calls for
dialogue in Vienna through discussion of relevant CFE/ACFE
topics, while avoiding negotiations on package elements. In
all, five Allies (UK, CA, RO, HU and GE) made six
presentations, which were intended to assuage Russian
concerns and support the Allied positions. Predictably,
Germany, the most vocal of Allies in its calls for more
intensive discussions in Vienna, made two presentations and
also the most technical and detailed. However, if Germany
and other Allies hoped to draw Russia back into
implementation through their persuasive arguments, then the
Allies came up short, as most of these presentations failed
to strike a cord with the Russian delegation.
11. (C) The NAC Statement of 28 March on CFE had an
immediate, but temporary, positive impact on Allied
solidarity, and dissension subsided in the JCG-T as Germany
focused on the fact that NATO now had an approved proposal.
The decision and its subsequent endorsement in Bucharest also
focused negative attention on Russia's failure to provide an
official response to the offer, a point GE pressed repeatedly
from April on.
Russia's calls for dialogue on package specifics
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
12. (C) Nevertheless, the Mission assesses that Russia's
calls for substantive dialogue on package specifics will
increasingly resonate with Allies in the absence of
noticeable progress in bilateral talks. The prospect of
taking Russia to task for every infraction is becoming stale
and some have advocated skipping repetitive statements in the
JCG in favor of simply noting an inspection refusal or
missing data as a routine entry for record. In act, as
early as April, Belgium required pressurefrom the U.S. even
to make an intervention aboutthe refusal of their
inspection. Without a clear understanding of how continued
reporting will ipact negotiations, taking Russia to task
will loe much of its initial appeal.
13. (C) Likewise, llies see few ways to extend the agenda on
focusd dialogue without becoming repetitive and have ha
little appetite to do so. Some have argued that Allies could
reduce the frequency of meetings without sacrificing the
Allied objective of reporting Russia's non-compliance,
although Germany strongly wants to keep the full schedule of
weekly meetings intact. Finally, Russia at times has told
Mission and others that it is waiting until after he U.S.
election, at least, to see how much more it can get. Most
Allies also perceive that the ucoming U.S. presidential
election season followe by a transition and an initial
period of policyreview will further delay progress.
Russia's Cosistent Drum Beat on its "Big 3"
- - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
14. (C) The Russian delegation to the JCG, ld by Head of
Military Security and Arms Control delegation, Mikhail
Ulyaov, remained on point and hammered away with a
consistent message throughout the session. Russia's
underlying objective from the beginning of the session seemed
to be that of bringing negotiations on the parallel actions
package to Vienna. Russia has attempted to "disaggregate"
the parallel actions package and has tried to tempt Allies
into dissecting the parallel actions package as early as
February. Russia consistently deconstructed Allied
statements in hope of fleshing out the issues surrounding
various pieces of the package text.
15. (C) Perhaps in an attempt to test the waters, Belarus
introduced a decision on Provisional Application
(JCG.DEL/02/08) of the adapted Treaty in early February.
Russia strongly supported the proposal, noting that while it
would not be a panacea, it should be part of the package and
could, after agreement, lead to Russia returning to Treaty
implementation. After initial discussions, Russia attempted
to bait Allies by characterizing he positions as "coming
closer," and then attemping to show how Allied objections to
provisional pplication could be overcome. Allies failed to
ite and in the face of intense Allied opposition Russia
finally dropped discussion of provisional application,
turning its attention toward specific elements of the
16. (C) Beginning in April Russia began a constant chant that
the JCG should take up discussions on the definition of
"substantial combat forces," criteria for accession by NATO
members that are not States Parties, and lowering NATO's
"collective ceilings." While other points came and went,
these "big three" remained on Russia's wish list. Russia has
focused most of its attention on pinning down a definition
for "substantial combat forces," and by the end of round
Russia had tabled a proposed definition.
17. (C) Russia also attempted, with little success, to begin
discussions now on terms for immediate accession of the
Baltic States, hoping to hold them to agreed numbers later
during the accession process. Ulyanov noted in his final
statement of the round that Russia had adjusted their
position from wanting to discuss accession of these States to
CFE, in favor of discussing their accession to ACFE. Finally,
Russia wanted to address the changed European security
landscape by "restoring the military balance." Ulyanov
called for all current States Parties belonging to NATO to
reduce their individual current and future (under ACFE)
ceilings so as not to exceed the level prescribed for the
Western Group of States Parties in the current Treaty.
Russia would prefer this to being allowed to increase its own
ceilings. While a consistent talking point, Russia did not
push this issue during the last couple months of the session.
18. (C) The intensity of Russia'a lobbying for discussion on
the big three in Vienna increased as the session wore on.
Finally, in July, Russia tabled its own proposed definition
of "substantial combat forces" and had their proposal added
as an agenda item for the final session. During the last
meeting, Ulyanov drew on the number of Allied interventions
regarding their proposal, while disregarding Allies' general
negative tone, to conclude that initial discussions had been
productive. On the margins Ulyanov remarked to USDel that it
could expect more of the same in the future.
19. (C) Supporting Ulyanov's bid to move negotiations to
Vienna were Russia's now familiar talking points, inter alia:
-- NATO and the U.S. are responsible for Russia's moratorium.
-- Russia has fulfilled its Istanbul commitments long ago.
-- The moratorium is consistent with international law.
-- ACFE is discriminatory toward Russia, especially on
-- The U.S. is not negotiating seriously, as evidenced by
the small number of meetings.
-- Russia sees the parallel actions package as Russian
actions for NATO promises.
Russia's changing tactics
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
20. (C) While Russia's message remained constant, its tactics
evolved somewhat through the session. At the outset in
January, Russia called for more substantive discussion in the
JCG. As noted above, Russia initially used Belarus as a
surrogate to propose provisional application. In April,
Russia refocused its attention on the big three and increased
its calls for active dialogue in Vienna. By May Russia was
actively lobbing individual Allies, attempting to sow
discontent with U.S. leadership and its resistance to holding
discussions in a more inclusive format. Germany seemed to be
Russia's preferred conduit, being the first to warn Allies in
a June JCG-T that Russia will likely present concrete
proposals in the JCG on the "secondary issues that risen to
21. (C) Russia also tried to create a sense of urgency in
the JCG when its Ulyanov opted out of three consecutive
meetings in June--a tactic that Russia likely thought would
draw concern from the other States Parties. However, the
impact of his absence was negligible and it had no bearing on
the substance of discussions in the JCG. Finally, Russia has
attempted to increase pressure by submitting specific
proposal on a definition of substantial combat forces, again,
noting they intend to table more in the future.
Russia Remains Defiant
- - - - - - - - - - - -
22. (C) Russia's initial reaction to Allied statements of
Russian non-compliance was one of feigned confusion, surprise
and several times, unpleasant sarcasm. Russia noted
President Putin signed Russia's suspension into law, and that
it should not surprise Allies if Russia did exactly as called
for under Russian law. On July 9, a day following the JCG
Plenary in which States Parties criticized the eleventh
inspection refusal of Russia, Ulyanov told the USDel that
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was "very angry" with the
U.S. for continuing this tactic of making an issue out of
each act of non-compliance. By the end of the round, Russia
seemed resigned to the fact that they would be criticized for
every refused inspection and missed data exchange. When the
U.S. called out Russia on 22 July over a missed inspection,
the Russian delegation listened silently.
23. (C) As the session closes, the Russian Federation
continues to push for discussions on the definition of
"substantial combat forces," accession of the Baltic States
and Slovenia, and the lowering ceilings of all NATO States
Parties. Indeed, a written Russian proposal "Defining
Substantial combat Forces" was presented by Russia (Ulyanov)
on July 15.
24. (C) Throughout the session the vast majority of debate
occurred between Allies and Russia. With the exception of
moderate support from Belarus, no other SP fell in on the
side of Russia. Kazakhstan never took the floor. While two
meetings witnessed Azerbaijan and Armenia square off over
Nogorno-Kharabakh, there was no indication during the session
that any non NATO SP was considering suspension.
The Azerbaijani Wildcard
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
25. (SBU) Azerbaijan, however, remains a wildcard.
Azerbaijani reps have told us that they do not believe that
Azerbaijan will be able to ratify ACFE with the current TLE
limits. USDel has repeatedly heard that Azerbaijan's
National and Territorial Ceilings in ACFE are insufficient
and its reps are worried about U.S. and NATO statements that
ACFE will only be reviewed after its entry into force.
Azerbaijan has made several interventions (the first back
during the Third Review Conference) that it considers itself
in a state of "force-majeure" regarding the Treaty. It
regularly complains about the imbalance of its forces in
comparison to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
- - - - - - -
26. (C) The outgoing Chair (Fardellotti, Italy) held several
informal sessions, and two "official" sessions. Russia
(Solomenko) argued (rebutted by the U.S.) that future TOI
work should focus only on ACFE issues. The only item
discussed in any detail, and agreed, was that the POET Chair
(Linteau, Canada) would become the next TOI Chair. USDel
provided significant expertise and advice to both working
group chairs, mainly to discourage bad ideas from surfacing
in a vacuum. USDel coached both chairs on current
negotiations, historical disagreements, and a way forward, to
include some of the tasks that will be required to bring ACFE
entry into force.
Conclusion/Expectations -- Restless Allies
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
27. (C) Allies will remain on board initially, but with
continuing growing apprehension in the absence of clear
signals that progress is forthcoming. From a Vienna
perspective, it all depends on perceived progress and efforts
made, especially by the U.S., in the Fried-Antonov talks.
Any perceived further loss of momentum seen to be caused by
upcoming U.S. elections and administration transition will
put pressure on Allied solidarity. In the absence of any
progress toward an agreement on the parallel actions plan,
more Allies may begin to echo Luxemburg's question, i.e.,
what will follow CFE; and Medvedev's pan-European security
initiative will provide at a minimum, some curiosity.
28. (C) Russia will continue to press for dialogue up to and
including negotiation of elements of the parallel action plan
in Vienna, Brussels or elsewhere, to "support" the
higher-level bilat talks. It will continue to hammer the
U.S. for the pace of negotiations and is almost certain to
continue to criticize U.S. leadership privately to individual
Allies. USDel also expects Russia to table additional
papers/proposals this fall in an attempt to draw out
discussion on accession and "collective ceilings."
29. (C) Seen from the Vienna perspective, Allies privately
are becoming clearly more apprehensive over the pace and
format of bilateral negotiations. Nonetheless, Allies will
remain on board as long as support holds in the HLTF. It
will become very hard, however, to encourage Allied
interventions in the JCG critical of Russia in the manner of
the session that just ended. Lack of momentum, moreover,
will motivate Germany and others to seek policy changes in
capitals, especially if they perceive that local negotiations
on specific technical points can support continued bilateral