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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09TBILISI697 2009-04-08 14:46:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi
Cable title:  

GEORGIA: OSCE AND EUMM REPORT RUSSIAN TROOP

Tags:   PGOV PREL RU GG 
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VZCZCXRO2658
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0697 0981446
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 081446Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1350
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000697 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/08/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: OSCE AND EUMM REPORT RUSSIAN TROOP
INCREASES IN LEAD UP TO APRIL 9 PROTESTS

REF: A. TBILISI 679

B. 4/7/09 TBILISI UPDATE (E-MAIL)

Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary and Comment. While Russian Foreign Minister
Lavrov keeps warning of potential Georgian belligerence on
April 9, the view from Tbilsi looks exactly the opposite.
OSCE, UNOMIG and EUMM monitors are reporting to us that they
do not see a Georgian threat, but they do see a substantial
increase of Russian troops in Akhalgori and in Abkhazia. This
activity coincides with an uncompromising line by the extreme
Georgian opposition (ref A). They are rejecting calls for
political dialogue, issued by the Ambassador, the Patriarch,
the EU and President Saakashvili and insist they will stay on
the streets until Saakashvili resigns. They seem to be
counting on a large crowd to give them legitimacy. Moreover,
Tbilisi is awash with rumors (from the government and others)
of Russian money being funneled into the coffers of the
radical opposition (reportedly in part through Nino
Burjanadze). We do not have hard evidence to confirm these
rumors, but the coincidence of this with the increase in
Russian troops is disturbing. End Summary and Comment.



2. (C) On April 8 an OSCE monitor and an EUMM political
advisor told us that they had met with Russian Colonel
Anatoliy Tarasov, Armed Forces Commandant of South Ossetia,
on April 6. The OSCE monitor confirmed that Tarasov reported
the Russians would have more troops than usual in the
Akhalgori Valley the week of April 6. Reportedly, this
number could reach as high as one and a half battalions, or
1,500 troops. The OSCE monitor added that Tarasov had said
something along the lines of, "If we go back in, we going all
the way." He also noted that Tarasov is due to retire in
three months. The monitor repeated the OSCE's observations
(ref B) of increased Georgian forces in some spots and
substantial positions established along the ridge south of
the main east-west highway.



3. (C) An EUMM political advisor confirmed that the
increased numbers of Russian forces in Akhalgori will be
substantial. While he did not have a precise idea of how
many, he guessed it could be as many as 2,000. He said
Tarasov's explanation was that twice a year, as the "winter
troops" are rotated out and the "summer troops" are rotated
in, they conduct joint exercises during the overlap period.
The EUMM political advisor believed the winter exercises were
underway, although he wondered aloud why winter exercises
would be held in April. He said Tarasov was pleased that the
EUMM will have additional patrols out during the protests,
but Tarasov expressed concern about provocations.



4. (C) According to the OSCE monitor, Russian forces brought
the following equipment into the zone of conflict in Gali on
April 7:

6 x 152mm self-propelled gun
23 x T-72 tanks
4 x armored mobile command posts (tracked vehicles)
15 x BTR-80 (armored personnel carriers)
9-10 x MBRL System BM-21 "GRAD" rocket launchers
23 x Ural trucks carrying equipment/ammo/stores
2 x ambulances
4 x communication vehicles
3 x maintenance vehicles.



5. (SBU) In addition to monitoring the Tbilisi-based April
9 protests, we will also stay in close touch with OSCE, UN
and EUMM monitors and report any additional information.
TEFFT