|09USNATO581||2009-12-10 10:19:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Mission USNATO|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 USNATO 000581
1. (C) Summary: Russia harshly criticized NATO and
individual Allies during a NATO-Russia Council meeting on the
Russian military exercises Zapad and Ladoga, while managing
to avoid giving any details on the exercises themselves. The
Russian Ambassador to NATO did not discuss the provocative
scenario for the exercises and criticized NATO for holding
its own exercises in the former Soviet space. He complained
that the response to the Russian exercises by some Allies
smacked of Cold War rhetoric. Allies asked that Russia use
"common sense" when planning its exercises and took exception
to the Russian Ambassador's tone, prompting an even harsher
Russian rebuke. The NATO Secretary General asked the Russian
Ambassador to convey to Moscow Allied concern over the
exercises, the size and nature of which were contrary to the
spirit of NATO-Russia cooperation. End summary.
2. (C) Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitri Rogozin briefed the
NATO-Russia Council (NRC) on November 25 (at Allied request)
on the recent Russian-Belarussian military exercises Zapad
and Ladoga (reftel). He provided no substantive information
on the exercises, criticizing instead those Allies that had
raised concerns about Russian intentions. Without explaining
the scenario for the exercises, Rogozin claimed they were
defensive in nature and did not include the simulated use of
nuclear weapons. He argued that Russia had been transparent
by inviting international observers although it was not
legally required to do so. NATO countries were involved in
many more exercises than Russia, he said, including exercises
held in the "former Soviet space" that used an enemy clearly
modeled on Russia. He claimed that in 2010, Ukraine would
hold eight exercises involving more than 7,000 troops each,
and that exercises would continue in Georgia, which Rogozin
called "a favorite baby of some NATO countries."
3. (C) Rogozin made much of a recent statement by the Polish
Foreign Minister that while Poland did not fear Russia, NATO
still had plans to defend itself against a Russian threat.
Rogozin asked for a briefing on this plan, and commented that
reaction to the Russian exercises had the "smell of the Cold
4. (C) The Polish PermRep said it was troubling that Russia
refused to discuss Zapad and Ladoga in an open manner, even
after NRC members had asked it to do so. He noted that NATO
used artificial scenarios in its exercises, whereas Russia
seemed set on making its exercises politically provocative.
Lithuania said that it did not feel any kind of threat from
Russia, but was disappointed that Russia chose to conduct its
largest post-Soviet exercise along the Lithuanian border.
Estonia asked that Russia simply use "common sense" when
planning its exercises.
5. (C) Rogozin responded to the Allies by complaining that
the entire discussion was "insanity" and blamed the media in
Allied countries for incendiary reports on the Russian
exercises. If NATO wanted to discuss the demilitarization of
Russia's western frontiers, this would require the same of
the Baltic countries. However, if a country had armed
forces, they needed to be on "combat alert," thus the need
for the Russian exercises. Rogozin directed questions to
specific Allies, such as asking Lithuania what it had done in
a "positive, constructive way" to further bilateral ties with
Russia. He then launched into a monologue on the need to
create conditions that would foster partnership and
cooperation and abandon "far fetched ideas and rhetoric."
6. (C) Rogozin's harsh tone prompted more Allied responses.
Romania suggested that Rogozin did not understand the Polish
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FM's comments and other Allied concerns, while Lithuania
implored Rogozin to "hear what we say and take it into
7. (C) NATO Secretary General Rasmussen concluded by asking
that Russia understand why NRC members wanted to raise the
recent exercises in this forum. The SecGen requested that
Rogozin convey to Moscow that the scale and scenario of the
exercises did not correspond to the spirit of the NRC, and he
hoped that similar exercises would not be held in 2010.
Rogozin came back a final time to assert that if he had
thought the exercises would have had a "detrimental impact"
on NATO-Russia relations, he would have avoided "briefing"
8. (C) The Alliance has had several discussions on the Zapad
and Ladoga exercises, stemming from some Allies' deep concern
over Russian intentions and methodology. Rogozin's behavior
and unwillingness to listen to Allied concerns did little to
assuage and much to further frustrate Allies just as
improving NATO-Russia relations was in the spotlight. The
latest episode feeds the belief of several Allies that the
real signal of Russia's intention to engage seriously with
NATO would be to send a more politically astute Ambassador.