152806 5/7/2008 15:20 08MOSCOW1285 Embassy Moscow CONFIDENTIAL VZCZCXRO7578 OO RUEHBW DE RUEHMO #1285/01 1281520 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 071520Z MAY 08 FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7950 INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 001285
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/07/2018 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MARR, RS SUBJECT: RUSSIA CONTINUES TO OVERPLAY HAND WITH GEORGIA: WARNS OF DANGERS OF WAR
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns: Reasons 1.4 (b, d).
1. (C) Summary: In the May 6 wake of FM Lavrov's "extreme concern" over Georgian military intentions, Deputy Foreign Minister Karasin warned the Ambassador that Saakashvili was unstable; while Russia did not seek conflict, if Georgia was intent on provoking hostilities, Russia would respond. Russian foreign policy experts joined official condemnation of Georgian military rhetoric, with Russia's NATO Ambassador Rogozin blaming NATO for Georgia's plans to retake Abkhazia by force. While Lavrov denied receiving an Abkhaz proposal for extending Russian military protection to Abkhazia, saber rattling continued, with a senior Russian military official charging that Russia would not permit any further Georgian overflights, including UAVs. Painting the current escalation as a direct result of NATO MAP deliberations, Russian analysts charge that military defeat may nevertheless be a domestic electoral boon for Saakashvili, who they believe overestimates U.S. support for Georgian military adventurism. While some analysts recognize that Russia has fallen back into the role of international bad guy, there is broad support for Russia's expanded engagement with Abkhazia and interest in provoking a Georgian overreaction that might doom its MAP bid. End Summary
GOR: Saakashvili Causes Concern
2. (C) Russian officials have stepped up warnings over the alleged unpredictability of the Georgian leadership and, returning to a favorite theme, the "emotional instability" of Saakashvili. On May 6, Foreign Minister Lavrov reacted to Georgian public statements by noting his "extreme concern" over Georgia's predisposition to forcing a confrontation, pointing to "more and more worrisome facts" suggesting Georgia's intent to settle the conflict with Abkhazia by force. Lavrov called upon those countries "who still have some influence on the Georgian leadership" to dissuade Georgia from its military path. On the evening of May 6, the Ambassador warned Deputy Foreign Minister Karasin against letting events spin out of control and urged Russia to moderate its rhetoric. In response, Karasin accused Saakashvili of being unstable and warned that the Georgian President should be careful. While Russia was not interested in an armed conflict, and had taken discrete steps to improve the bilateral relationship, if Georgia was determined to precipitate hostilities, Russia would respond. The common theme among leading Russian analysts with whom we spoke on May 6 was that Saakashvili believed he could "get away with war," given sustained U.S. support for Georgia's "aggressive" policy towards Russia; a potentially fatal miscalculation, in the eyes of the Russian analysts.
3. (SBU) The drumbeat of anti-Saakashvili rhetoric continues from other official quarters. Russia's Ambassador to NATO Dmitriy Rogozin lashed out against Georgian Integration Minister Yakobashvili's comment that Georgia was close to war, putting the blame on Georgia for the heightened tensions. Rogozin charged Georgia with implementing a cynical plan "approved by several sponsors" to blame Russia for increased tensions in the zone of conflict, relying upon a "massive propaganda barrage" to justify its actions. Rogozin accused Georgia of seeking to seize Sukhumi by force, with Georgian special forces "trained by NATO instructors," with the potential to produce "serious bloodletting." Other Russian experts have joined Rogozin in blaming NATO for Georgian adventurism, with the head of the European Institute's European Security Department Dmitriy Danilov maintaining that Georgia was the first step on the path towards NATO's domination of the Caucasus.
4. (SBU) In less inflammatory language, Duma International Relations Chairman Konstantin Kosachev blamed the absence of a viable political process in resolving the frozen conflicts on Georgia, but reiterated that Russia had to avoid being an aggressor. Dismissing Georgian accusations of the annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Kosachev stressed that Russia -- solutions. Ambassador Nuland announced a U.S. contribution of $2,000,000 to the ISAF Post Operations Humanitarian Relief Fund.
-- Balkans: The U.S. urged NATO to obtain detailed information regarding UN staffing levels in Kosovo during the upcoming transition period.
-- Africa ) Support to the AU: No discussion.
-- Iraq: No discussion.
-- 2008 ) 2009 NATO Public Diplomacy Strategy: In presenting the 2008-2009 strategy, Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Jean-Francois Bureau cited progress in public diplomacy since last year thanks to NAC support and guidance, the flexibility to redistribute PDD resources from lapsed science programs to the Media Operations Center and NATO TV, and improved Afghan capacity. Allies endorsed the two-year, Summit-to-Summit timeline of the strategy as well as the focus on NATO priorities, new technology and targeted audiences. Ambassador Nuland noted that the mechanics and the vision are right, but NATO lacks the capacity it needs.
-- Statements on Political Subjects: Ambassador Nuland briefed the NAC using a Washington-provided PowerPoint presentation entitled: "Stemming the Flow of Foreign Terrorists into Iraq" and asked Allies to take a number of steps to impede the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq (details septel).
-- AOB: No discussion.
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2. (SBU) NEW NATO SENIOR CIVILIAN REPRESENTATIVE CHOSEN: The SYG announced he had selected an Italian candidate, Ambassador Fernando Gentilini, as NATO's next SCR in Afghanistan. Gentilini comes from the cabinet of outgoing PM Prodi, and should arrive in Kabul in mid-July for two weeks of overlap with current Acting SCR Jochems.
3. (C/NF) BUCHAREST FORCE GENERATION FOLLOW-UP: Chairman of the Military Committee (CMC) General Henault reported that the IMS tasked SHAPE to provide information on the status of Bucharest ISAF offers, and an assessment on how these offers address the CJSOR priority shortfalls, by May 13. The SYG, relaying a problem that SHAPE experienced in producing this report, reminded Allies that nations must follow up their Bucharest pledges with formal offers to D/SACEUR.
4. (C/NF) AFGHAN NATIONAL SECURITY FORCES TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT: CMC Henault reminded the Council that the current shortfall in NATO embedded ANA training teams (OMLTs) is 22; factoring in both planned ANA growth and existing NATO OMLT pledges, this shortfall will remain more or less static through March 2009, when the shortfall is predicted to be 20 teams. IMS Assistant Director MG Li Gobbi noted the following statistics on the participation of ANSF (ANA and/or ANP) in ISAF operations by Regional Command: in RC-E, ANSF has participated in 100 percent of operations; in RC-S, 90 percent; RC-W, 80 percent; RC-N, 30 percent; and RC-Capital, 50 percent. ANSF have had the lead in approximately 25 percent of operations across Afghanistan. The CMC stated that the Military Committee is working on finalizing long-term NATO training support initiatives to the ANA.
5. (C/NF) ISAF OPERATIONS: MG Li Gobbi briefed that the ongoing poppy harvest has played a role in limiting the operational tempo of Opposing Militant Forces (OMF); the harvest should begin winding down at the end of May/early June. Li Gobbi pointed to recent OMF propaganda concerning a "spring offensive," but stated that OMF lack the capability and the command and control to carry out attacks pan-theater or even coordinated between regions. OMF were in a "reactive" mode in RC-S last week, according to Li Gobbi, due to intense ISAF and ANSF activity, characterized by the U.S. 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit's (MEU) clearing operations in Garmsir, and significant operations led by the ANA 205 Corps near Kandahar. Despite ISAF and ANSF operations in RC-E, he anticipated spikes in the levels of OMF activity in RC-E due to the bolstering of Pakistani safehavens by deals between the Pakistani government and militants.
6. (C/NF) PAKISTAN: Canadian PermRep McRae again expressed oft-heard Canadian concerns with the Pakistani safehavens of militants that attack ISAF forces, and questioned whether the Pakistani government was living up to its international obligations by agreeing deals with militants that ignored the issue of cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. He asked the SYG if he intended to engage the Pakistani leadership on this issue, and asked if the Tripartite Commission (TPC) could be of more assistance. He urged quick action on a Bucharest tasking agreed by HOSG to "( strengthen ISAF engagement in
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the TPC and supporting processes, including by encouraging the TPC to develop a joint plan for securing the border, in consultation with the cross-border Jirga and creation of an ISAF military liaison office in Islamabad." The SYG agreed that NATO needed a political dialogue with Pakistan, and stated that he has held off on contacting the new Pakistani leadership, but intends to do so "once the dust settles" in Islamabad.
7. (C/NF) NATO-QATAR COOPERATION AGREEMENT AND ISAF AIR OPS: Noting SACEUR's April 25 letter underlining the importance of the ISAF Cell at the U.S. Central Command's Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) in Qatar, the SYG asked NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General Bob Simmons to brief on his April 28-29 negotiations in Doha for a NATO-Qatar Cooperation Agreement that would establish an official status for the Cell and permit ISAF to remain in the CAOC. (Comment: Qatar had in the past threatened to expel NATO personnel working in the CAOC, arguing that they were there in violation of Qatari immigration law. End comment.) Simmons said that the discussions had failed to resolve several major issues, particularly relating to jurisdiction and the scope of bilateral agreements, adding that he had remained firm with regard to Allied red lines. Despite the apparent impasse, the Qatari negotiator had neither ended negotiations completely nor threatened to close the ISAF Cell. Instead, he asked NATO to provide him with a clean copy of the agreement as proposed by Allies in order that his authorities could study it and determine whether and how to proceed with negotiations. The SYG said that he was "feeling slightly uncomfortable in this negotiating process," adding that he had hoped Allies could have provided Simmons' more flexibility on key issues. Nevertheless, he proposed that the process move forward as suggested by the Qataris, with NATO providing Doha a clean, revised text. CMC Henault stressed that there was no viable alternative to the ISAF Cell within the CAOC and that it was "critical to providing the Close Air Support when ISAF troops are in contact with the enemy." Ambassador Nuland, deploying reftel guidance, endorsed the SYG's proposal to send Doha a revised copy of the draft agreement, while making clear that the U.S. would not bend on jurisdictional issues. She suggested that if the impasse continued, NATO could determine whether Doha would allow the ISAF Cell to remain if it were staffed only with NATO personnel from countries with bilateral SOFAs. The Italian DCM also agreed with the SYG's approach, adding that Rome looked at this issue through the lens of jurisdiction. The French PermRep stressed the continuing military importance of the ISAF Cell, as demonstrated by SACEUR's letter and General Henault's comments, and argued that Allies had "no other choice" but to continue to find a way to reach an agreement. He added that as the Contact Point Embassy in Doha, the French were prepared to offer any assistance possible to NATO in the negotiations.
8. (C/NF) DISCUSSION: Ambassador Nuland announced an imminent U.S. donation of $2,000,000 to the ISAF Post Operations Humanitarian Relief Fund, and encouraged proportional Allied donations that would enable the POHRF to become a truly
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effective tool for COMISAF. She noted the 24th MEU had been successful thus far in blocking Taliban infiltration routes from Pakistan through southern Helmand into northern Helmand and that the MEU was likely to continue operations near Garmsir. She stated that U.S. Marine police trainers had begun to deploy to northern Helmand and Farah provinces, and had brought reconstruction money with them, as well. The UK PermRep urged nations to contribute to the joint UK/France helicopter trust fund, and the Norwegian PermRep announced that Norway would contribute two-million euros to the fund.
9. (C/NF) The SYG informed the Council of UN Under Secretary General for Peace-Keeping Operations Guehenno's recent trip to Pristina and Belgrade to discuss UNMIK and EULEX transition plans and the May 6 meeting of the Quint Political Directors in London that discussed Kosovo. The SYG noted that Guehenno could not attend the London meeting, but would be providing a full readout of his trip via teleconference upon his return to New York later this week. The SYG also mentioned the upcoming Serbian elections on May 11 and Belgrade's determination to hold elections in Kosovo despite UNMIK's position that municipal elections would violate UNSCR 1244. The CMC echoed the SYG's last point, saying that upcoming events such as the elections present situations that could upset the current situation in Kosovo. Noting that KFOR will continue its high operational tempo, the CMC stated that the radical Kosovo Albania Movement for Self-Determination is planning to hold a demonstration in Pristina in advance of the elections and KFOR is taking all necessary actions in coordination with UNMIK and the KPS to deter any violence. Lastly, the CMC stated that SHAPE would be providing its input with regard to revision three of the Balkans JOA Operations Plan by the end of the week for approval by the Military Committee and the NAC. The CMC noted that the Military Committee is looking to provide its approval, and forward it to the Kosovo policy coordinating group and the NAC no later than the June Defense Ministerial.
10. (C/NF) Upon hearing this last point, the UK pushed for a faster timetable and appealed to the CMC to "speed the process up," saying that events on the ground could not wait. In response, the CMC assured the UK that the NMAs would do all it can to facilitate a quick process, but underscored that the political guidance only came last week. In response to a Dutch question on reserve forces, the CMC mentioned that the German reserve battalion would be rotating out of Kosovo by May 31 and be replaced by the UK reserve battalion. He assured the Council that COMKFOR does have the forces he needs, assuming that KFOR does not become the first responder as a result of gaps between UNMIK and EULEX. Ambassador Nuland noted U.S. disappointment with Guehenno's failure to appear at the London meeting, and that Washington remains deeply concern by any UN effort to conduct parallel negotiations with Belgrade that could have a negative impact
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on Kosovo and its status as a recognized independent nation. She called on Allies to continue their engagement with the UN, particularly in getting UN support to the incoming EU mission, and formally proposed that NATO, led by the SYG, inquire about UN staffing plans heading into June 15 and post-June 15 at least until September 1. She also noted the importance of emphasizing that there should be no gaps between UNMIK and EULEX, and that the UN owes NATO answers regarding transition plans given its direct impact on KFOR operations. Greece supported the U.S., saying that the information on UN plans would be very useful for NATO. The SYG concluded by endorsing the U.S. request and said he would do everything that was necessary to ensure that NATO has any additional information it might need regarding transition and the way ahead in Kosovo. The SYG also noted that he would brief the Council regarding Guehenno's activities at some point next week.
2008 - 2009 NATO Public Diplomacy Strategy
11. (U) A/SYG for Public Diplomacy Jean-Francois Bureau requested endorsement of the 2008-2009 Public Diplomacy Strategy as the way to enhance NATO's image, engage new members and partners and get NATO competing in the global information environment. He cited progress since last year thanks to NAC support and guidance, the flexibility to redistribute PDD resources from lapsed science programs to the Media Operations Center and NATO TV, and improved Afghan capacity including through U.S., UK and Canadian efforts. He and Spokesman James Appathurai emphasized the need for expanded public affairs capacity in ISAF (filling the empty PAO billets at ISAF HQ and in regional commands, and opening embed programs to media from other nations), in Afghanistan (more mentoring of Afghan government officials, particularly at the regional level), and at NATO (implementing the Military Committee Action Plan with human and financial resources, training for outgoing PAOs, and a stronger effort to build PA capabilities at the national level). A/SYG Bureau asked Allies to help in forecasting their deployments, as the six-month rotations offered a management and training challenge on the PA side as well.
12. (U) General Henault reported that the Military Committee has identified strategic communications has one of its main lines of discussion to be taken up by Chiefs of Defense at next week's meeting. He welcomed the new policy foundation and the action plan roadmaps to capacity building, but stated that reform in military PA capacity would be progressive.
13. (U) Ambassador Nuland welcomed the considerable progress since last year and A/SYG Bureau's leadership in getting the mechanics and the vision right. She noted the need now to focus on capacity ) the right voices, pictures, training and younger audiences. She recommended expanded PA training at NATO, getting surrogates out speaking in capitals, and building on the Young Atlanticist Network to reach the 30-40 year-old professional communities throughout the Alliance.
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Allies endorsed the two-year, Summit-to-Summit timeline, as well as the focus on NATO priorities, new technology and younger audiences. The UK PermRep urged PDD to think early about the Summit PD plan and target audiences across the Alliance. The Czech Republic and Lithuania requested separate plans to address NATO's response to 21st century threats. Almost all Allies spoke, giving positive feedback to Bureau's presentation. NULAND