Премия Рунета-2020
Россия
Москва
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Политика15 марта 2011 22:00

Телеграммы, отправленные из посольства США в Тбилиси 8 августа 2008 года

08TBILISI1341 C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001341 SIPDIS DEPT FOR EUR/CARC E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2018 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, RU, GG SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SOUTH OSSETIA SITREP 2: GEORGIA CLAIMS TO CONTROL MUCH OF SOUTH OSSETIA, FIGHTING CONTINUES REF: TBILISI 1337 Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 1. (C) Summary: President Saakashvili in an August 8 conversation with the Ambassador, and Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili in a briefing to the diplomatic corps, claimed that Georgia now controlled most of South Ossetia, including Tskhinvali, although fighting was continuing near the northern town of Dzhava. They also reported that Russian aircraft had dropped bombs on several targets in Georgia, outside of the conflict zone, at two locations in the center of Gori and dropped ordnance on a radar installation near Gori and a police station in Kareli. There are uncofirmed Georgian claims that they downed a Russian aircraft; in a statement, the Russian MFA denied this.Fighting had continued throughout the night of August 7, resuming four hours after President Saakashvili unilaterally declared a cease-fire at 1900. In a second address August 8, he called on the international community to help repel this "open Russian aggression" and announced a general mobilization of reserves. Meanwhile, Russian statements have accused the Georgians of targeting Russian peacekeepers; the Georgians argue that the South Ossetians are firing on the Russian peacekeepers as a provocation. The Georgians have announced that a safe corridor and ceasefire will be established from 3 to 6 pm local time for all civilians interested in leaving Tskhinvali to do so. During the night of August 8, four short range ballistic missiles were fired from within Russia toward Tskhinvali. 2. (C) We understand that at this point the Georgians control 75 percent of Tskhinvali and 11 villages around it. Journalists report that Georgian forces are moving toward the Roki tunnel. That road has been cratered by Georgian aircraft to make it difficult. We are told fighting continues with Russian fighters north of Tskhinvali; it is not clear if they are regular army or North Caucasian irregulars. Saakashvili has said that Georgia had no intention of getting into this fight, but was provoked by the South Ossetians and had to respond to protect Georgian citizens and territory. Meanwhile, the Georgian National Security Council (NSC) has formally requested 1,000 of its combat troops in Iraq be returned to Georgia within 72 hours. End Summary. 3. (C) Comment: All the evidence available to the country team supports Saakashvili's statement that this fight was not Georgia's original intention. Key Georgian officials who would have had responsibility for an attack on South Ossetia have been on leave, and the Georgians only began mobilizing August 7 once the attack was well underway. As late as 2230 last night Georgian MOD and MFA officials were still hopeful that the unilateral cease-fire announced by President Saakashvili would hold. Only when the South Ossetians opened up with artillery on Georgian villages, did the offensive to take Tskhinvali begin. Post has eyes on the ground at the Ministry of Interior command post in Tbilisi and will continue to provide updates. The Embassy held an EAC and will hold another to reasses the situation by COB. We have issued a warden message and are looking at the situation very carefully. If the Georgians are right, and the fighting is mainly over, the real unknown is what the Russ potential for the conflict to expand. End comment. Current Situation ----------------- 4. (C) Saakashvili, who told the Ambassador that he was in Gori when a Russian bomb fell in the city center, confirmed that the Georgians had not decided to move ahead until the shelling intensified and the Russians were seen to be amassing forces on the northern side of the Roki Tunnel. He said that the Georgian military action had been successful, Tskhinvali was mainly under Georgian control and that reservists would be brought in to defend the city while armed forces were moved further north to continue the fighting. According to Saakashvili, the EU was sending in Carl Bildt and the Lithuanian Foreign Minister to Tbilisi. Although most in the Georgian government believed that the fighting had started as a ploy of de facto leader Kokoity, Saakashvili was now concerned that this might have been a Russian pretext and a further attack could be expected. The Foreign Minister briefed the diplomatic corps on the situation, noting that "all red lines had been crossed," but expressing hope that negotiations could take place and noting that a full amnesty would be offered to anyone involved in the fighting. ian role will be and whether there is She called on the international community to put pressure on the Russian Government to take no action. TBILISI 00001341 002 OF 002 5. (C) The battle in South Ossetia took place throughout the night of August 7. During the night, four short range ballistic missiles were fired from within Russia toward Tskhinvali. On August 8, Russian aircraft flew into Georgian airspace in central Georgia and dropped ordnance on a radar installation near Gori and a police station in Kareli. Post understands that at this point the Georgians control 75 percent of Tskhinvali and 11 villages around it. Journalists report that Georgian forces are moving toward the Roki tunnel. That road has been cratered by Georgian aircraft to make it difficult to navigate with vehicles. We are told fighting continues with Russian fighters north of Tskhinvali. It is not clear if they are regular army or North Caucasian irregulars, as an MOIA spokesman said that approximately 1500 uniformed, unidentified forces with tanks and artillery entered South Ossetia via the Roki tunnel on August 8 at 0200. Reports indicate many casualties, but none are reliably accurate. State Minister of Conflict Settlement and Reintegration Temuri Yakobashvili said again on August 8 that Georgia will grant amnesty to all Ossetian fighters. Chronology of Events -------------------- 6. (C) On August 7 at 1925 Yakobashvili returned from the conflict zone and the Ambassador that the South Ossetians continued to shoot at the Georgian villages despite the announcement of the cease-fire. Yakobashvili said that he waited with General Kulakhmetov, the Head of the Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinvali for some time for the South Ossetians to show up. Kulakhmetov tried to call Chochiev, and other South Ossetians to get them together with Yakobashvili, but they did not respond. Kulakhmetov said, he "does not control anything" and that the South Ossetians were "shooting at the Georgians behind my back." Yakobashvili said that the Russians originally agreed to host a bilateral meeting with the Ossetians and the Georgians outside the JCC. Popov came to Georgia for this purpose and announced publicly it was his intention to do so. Then, the Russians flipped and said the meeting should be under the JCC. Yakobashvili said it was the JCC system that had caused the mess and it was time for real face to fa ce talks. 7. (C) OSCE observers on the ground in Tskhinvali told Poloff that Georgia's attack on Tskhinvali began at 2335 on August 7 despite the cease-fire declared at 1900. The shelling intensified at 2345, with the Georgians possibly using large caliber mortars and GRAD artillery, with impacts every 15-20 seconds, and the South Ossetians returning fire. By observers' calculations, by 0035 there were at least 100 hits on the city of Tskhinvali, some of them damaging the OSCE field office there. Currently, the OSCE has electricity, but part of the building has sustained damage and the internet is down. There was a lull in the activity between 0145 and 0415, when the situation began to re-intensify, and by 0615 loud explosions could be heard. The number of casualties are unknown as emergency services are unable to move freely on the ground due to firing. Most local residents are confined to cellars and basements waiting for calm to return. 8. (C) At approximately 0400 on August 8, the Georgian National Security Council asked the U.S. for the return of 1,000 of its troops from Iraq, 500 within the next 24 hours, and the remainder within 48 hours. A regularly scheduled rotator flight may return up to 250 troops to Georgia by this afternoon. (Note: USG agreement with the GOG provides for emergency return of 1,000 troops within 96 hours. End note.) Later, Saakashvili announced a general mobilization of all reserves. In a second address, he called Russia's actions "open aggression" and called on the international community to help repel it. 9. (C) Conversely, the Russians have said they believe Georgian forces are targeting Russian peacekeepers. They have told the Georgians that in view of these attacks Georgia bears responsibility for anything that might follow. The Georgians have replied that they are avoiding any conflict with the peacekeepers as well as civilians. The Georgians believe the South Ossetians are targeting the Russians to provoke a bigger Georgian-Russian conflict. 10. (C) The South Ossetians are reportedly now accusing the Russians of betraying them. One plausible explanation for all this is that de facto leader Kokoity decided to roll the dice and stimulate a conflict with the Georgians in hopes of bringing in the Russians and thereby saving himself or enhancing his position. Reports that Kokoity has left Tskhinvali remain unconfirmed. TEFFT 08TBILISI1336 C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001336 SIPDIS DEPT FOR EUR/CARC E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2018 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, RU, GG SUBJECT: SITREP 1: FIGHTING IN SOUTH OSSETIA ESCALATES Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 1. (C) Begin Summary: Intense fighting began in South Ossetia the evening of August 6 and continued into the daylight hours August 7. Intense fighting broke out west of Tskhinvali at approximiately 1800 in Avnevi and Nuli and continued until 2100, when explosions were noted northeast of Tskhinvali in Dmenisi and Sarabuki. By 0600 August 7, firefighting continued to the southwest in and around Erevneti. At 1600 local time, Deputy FM Grigory Vashadze called the Ambassador to report that a full-scale South Ossetian attack against a Georgian village was underway, resulting in the death of one Georgian peacekeeper and injuries to several others. There were reports of light arms fire, RPGs, and use of heavy artillery fire August 6-7, but the latter cannot be confirmed. Local Georgian authorities assisted by a JPFK escort evacuated approximately 40 children and women from Nuli after daybreak on August 7. Georgian authorities report that the South Ossetians are moving heavy military equipment from a base in J ava, located north of the conflict zone. OSCE observers indicated that Georgian forces along with GRAD artillery are on the move, either as part of a show of force or readiness, or both. 2. (C) Deputy Defense Minister Kutelia said that Georgian military troops are not massing in response to overnight's events and are taking great pains to respond proportionately. Minister of Foreign Affairs Eka Tkeshelashvili said that a proposed meeting between the State Minister for Re-integration Yakobashvili and de facto Representative Chochiev did not take place, and opined that de facto South Ossetian President Kokoity had blocked the meeting. However, OSCE reported that late in the day August 7, Yakobashvili was in the Russian peacekeepers compound in Tskhinvali meeting with Russian Envoy Yuri Popov along with the OSCE representative. Ambassador urged the Foreign Minister and the Deputy Minister of Defense to remain calm, not overreact, and to de-escalate the situation. 3. (C) Comment. The fighting which began well before dusk on August 6 and which continued into the early daylight hours of August 7, is atypical, given that these events usually end by daybreak. From evidence available to us it appears the South Ossetians started today's fighting. The Georgians are now reacting by calling up more forces and assessing their next move. It is unclear to the Georgians, and to us, what the Russian angle is and whether they are supporting the South Ossetians or actively trying to help control the situation. The Embassy is reviewing security procedures and will hold an EAC on August 8. End Summary and Comment. Official Response ------------------ 4. (C) In an August 7 meeting with the FM, the Ambassador urged the Georgians not to overreact to the situation and to restore calm to the region. The FM said that Kokoity blocked the proposed meeting between Yakobashvili and Chochiev and noted that the South Ossetians had instigated the August 6 attack. Ruslan Abashidze, Georgian Ministry for Reintegration, told Poloff that three Georgian peacekeepers had been injured in Wednesday evening's firefights and had been evacuated to the Gori military medical facility, where President Saakashvili will visit them. When the fighting escalated later on August 7, Deputy FM Vashadze told the Ambassador that one Georgian peacekeeper had been killed and several wounded. Vashadze said that heavy Russian equipment was being moved south from Java - a military base north of the conflict zone , which Georgians have not seen -- even in tense times -- in the past. According to Abashidze, Ossetians are shelling Georgian villages, and the village of Dmenisi has sustained significant damage. 5. (C) Deputy Minister of Defense Batu Kutelia told Ambassador at mid-day August 7 that Georgian military troops are on higher alert, but will not be deploying in response to Wednesday's events. According to the Embassy DATT, fourth brigade personnel were noticeably absent from training August 7, and those attending a UAV military training class had been called away as well. Kutelia said that the South Ossetians are targeting peacekeepers versus Ministry of Internal Affairs Troops. Embassy observers on the highway noted approximately 30 yellow city buses, the usual mode of transport for moving Ministry of Interior forces, carrying uniformed men heading north from Tbilisi. OSCE Military Observers ----------------------- 6. (C) OSCE Military observers told Poloff that Georgian TBILISI 00001336 002 OF 002 troops were on the move on the M-27 from east to west and west to east, in the direction of Gori. OSCE observers on the ground noted a column of 26 yellow city buses, carrying uniformed men, escorted by military vehicles moving to the north of Gori. There are numerous reports that the Georgians are moving military equipment and forces toward the north, but many cannot yet be confirmed. Initial impressions are that the Georgians are deploying troops to positions in Georgian territory to the south of the Zone of Conflict and were in a heightened state of readiness in order to show their resolve to respond to further attacks. TEFFT 08TBILISI1337 C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001337 SIPDIS DEPT FOR EUR/CARC E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2018 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, RU, GG SUBJECT: SITREP 1: FIGHTING IN SOUTH OSSETIA ESCALATES Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 1. (C) Begin Summary: Intense fighting began in South Ossetia the evening of August 6 and continued into the daylight hours August 7. Intense fighting broke out west of Tskhinvali at approximiately 1800 in Avnevi and Nuli and continued until 2100, when explosions were noted northeast of Tskhinvali in Dmenisi and Sarabuki. By 0600 August 7, firefighting continued to the southwest in and around Erevneti. At 1600 local time, Deputy FM Grigory Vashadze called the Ambassador to report that a full-scale South Ossetian attack against a Georgian village was underway, resulting in the death of one Georgian peacekeeper and injuries to several others. There were reports of light arms fire, RPGs, and use of heavy artillery fire August 6-7, but the latter cannot be confirmed. Local Georgian authorities assisted by a JPFK escort evacuated approximately 40 children and women from Nuli after daybreak on August 7. Georgian authorities report that the South Ossetians are moving heavy military equipment from a base in J ava, located north of the conflict zone. OSCE observers indicated that Georgian forces along with GRAD artillery are on the move, either as part of a show of force or readiness, or both. 2. (C) Deputy Defense Minister Kutelia said that Georgian military troops are not massing in response to overnight's events and are taking great pains to respond proportionately. Minister of Foreign Affairs Eka Tkeshelashvili said that a proposed meeting between the State Minister for Re-integration Yakobashvili and de facto Representative Chochiev did not take place, and opined that de facto South Ossetian President Kokoity had blocked the meeting. However, OSCE reported that late in the day August 7, Yakobashvili was in the Russian peacekeepers compound in Tskhinvali meeting with Russian Envoy Yuri Popov along with the OSCE representative. Ambassador urged the Foreign Minister and the Deputy Minister of Defense to remain calm, not overreact, and to de-escalate the situation. 3. (C) Comment. The fighting which began well before dusk on August 6 and which continued into the early daylight hours of August 7, is atypical, given that these events usually end by daybreak. From evidence available to us it appears the South Ossetians started today's fighting. The Georgians are now reacting by calling up more forces and assessing their next move. It is unclear to the Georgians, and to us, what the Russian angle is and whether they are supporting the South Ossetians or actively trying to help control the situation. The Embassy is reviewing security procedures and will hold an EAC on August 8. End Summary and Comment. Official Response ------------------ 4. (C) In an August 7 meeting with the FM, the Ambassador urged the Georgians not to overreact to the situation and to restore calm to the region. The FM said that Kokoity blocked the proposed meeting between Yakobashvili and Chochiev and noted that the South Ossetians had instigated the August 6 attack. Ruslan Abashidze, Georgian Ministry for Reintegration, told Poloff that three Georgian peacekeepers had been injured in Wednesday evening's firefights and had been evacuated to the Gori military medical facility, where President Saakashvili will visit them. When the fighting escalated later on August 7, Deputy FM Vashadze told the Ambassador that one Georgian peacekeeper had been killed and several wounded. Vashadze said that heavy Russian equipment was being moved south from Java - a military base north of the conflict zone , which Georgians have not seen -- even in tense times -- in the past. According to Abashidze, Ossetians are shelling Georgian villages, and the village of Dmenisi has sustained significant damage. 5. (C) Deputy Minister of Defense Batu Kutelia told Ambassador at mid-day August 7 that Georgian military troops are on higher alert, but will not be deploying in response to Wednesday's events. According to the Embassy DATT, fourth brigade personnel were noticeably absent from training August 7, and those attending a UAV military training class had been called away as well. Kutelia said that the South Ossetians are targeting peacekeepers versus Ministry of Internal Affairs Troops. Embassy observers on the highway noted approximately 30 yellow city buses, the usual mode of transport for moving Ministry of Interior forces, carrying uniformed men heading north from Tbilisi. OSCE Military Observers ----------------------- 6. (C) OSCE Military observers told Poloff that Georgian TBILISI 00001337 002 OF 002 troops were on the move on the M-27 from east to west and west to east, in the direction of Gori. OSCE observers on the ground noted a column of 26 yellow city buses, carrying uniformed men, escorted by military vehicles moving to the north of Gori. There are numerous reports that the Georgians are moving military equipment and forces toward the north, but many cannot yet be confirmed. Initial impressions are that the Georgians are deploying troops to positions in Georgian territory to the south of the Zone of Conflict and were in a heightened state of readiness in order to show their resolve to respond to further attacks. TEFFT C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 001591 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/10/2019 TAGS: PREL, MARR, PGOV, RS, GG SUBJECT: IMPLICATIONS OF REARMING GEORGIA FOR U.S.-RUSSIAN "RESET" REF: A. MOSCOW 1225 B. MOSCOW 0840 Classified By: Ambassador John R. Beyrle: Reasons 1.4 (b, d). 1. (C) Summary: A decision to move towards a more robust military relationship with Georgia will imperil our efforts to re-start relations with Russia, if it is not carefully calibrated and deployed. While Medvedev understands the strategic and personal benefits of crafting a productive partnership with the U.S., this impulse is trumped by the GOR's "absolute" priority placed on expanding Russian influence in the Eurasian neighborhood, preventing NATO enlargement, and demonstrating Russia's great power status. The Russian political class and populace is united behind these principles, with the August war confirming for the leadership that the international community lacks the levers to coerce a change in Russian behavior. Russian criticism of PfP exercises was both sincere -- anger over the "business as usual" approach with Saakashvili -- and tactical, designed to raise the costs of CIS cooperation with the West, but was not matched by a change in military posture. However, given consistent warnings over the consequences of weapons sales to Georgia, we believe a lethal military supply relationship with Tbilisi would come at the cost of advancing Georgia's territorial integrity, and could lessen Russian restraint on weapons transfers to Iran. We believe that keeping the focus on Georgia's economic and democratic development, while continuing our military cooperation with Tbilisi through transparent PfP programming with European partners, and non-lethal bilateral mil-mil training and assistance, is the only viable -- if very long-term -- strategy to induce better Russian behavior and restore Georgian territorial integrity. Critical to this effort will be building ballast in a U.S.-Russian relationship that serves as a break on Russia's worst instincts. End Summary Showdown Over Georgia? ---------------------- 2. (C) If not carefully calibrated and deployed, a decision to move towards a more robust military relationship with Georgia has the very real potential to trigger a dispute on a set of issues that are both neuralgic and strategic for the Russian political and military establishment, endangering the Administration's effort to undertake a fresh start with Moscow. While Medvedev appears seized with taking charge of the U.S.-Russian account and placing it on a new footing during the July summit, this policy impulse will be subordinate to Russia's "strategic interests" in its Eurasian neighborhood, as defined by both Medvedev and Putin. Russian intransigence on the UNOMIG rollover is a conspicuous illustration of this. We cannot accept this Russian calculus, but we need to understand what drives the Kremlin and White House: -- Russia places an "absolute" priority on expanding its influence and deepening its integration with neighboring states, as part of a self-conscious policy to combat the West's "creep" towards its borders (ref a). Inevitably, the question of Russia's status in the Eurasian "neighborhood," and the presumed zero-sum competition for influence along Russia's borders, will remain our most contentious bilateral issue and the likeliest stumbling block to improved U.S.-Russian relations. -- Russia opposes any further enlargement of NATO. The August war in Georgia signaled Moscow's readiness to expend materiel and men to achieve this goal, even at the cost of international opprobrium. The fact that NATO membership for both Georgia and Ukraine is not a front burner priority has not tempered Moscow's stance, since the Russian leadership sees this as a temporary reprieve, brought about by European reservations and not by a change in policy by the Obama Administration. -- Absent a standstill agreement on NATO, which Medvedev hopes to achieve through discussions over a new European Security Treaty, Russia presumes that we seek its strategic neutering. Our principled rejection of a Russian sphere of influence is read here as a denial of Russia's status as a great power, and another example of U.S. "double standards," rather than a repudiation of a Warsaw Pact mentality. -- Russia judges that we lack the bilateral or multilateral levers to coerce it into moderating its stance on Georgia or reversing its recognition of the conflict territories. Moscow assumes that we have too many strategic interests in common to credibly threaten Russia with a cut-off in relations -- a move that Europe (both old and new) never MOSCOW 00001591 002 OF 003 seriously contemplated in the wake of the Georgian war. -- Russian leaders enjoy a policy carte blanche on Georgia, with respect to domestic public opinion. Polls consistently show that Russians overwhelmingly welcome Moscow's resurgent foreign policy, revile Saakashvili, and blame Euro-Atlantic institutions for Moscow's worsening relations with former republics and Warsaw Pact partners. There is absolutely no difference between Medvedev and Putin when it comes to Georgia. Russian Warnings Over Mil-Mil Relations --------------------------------------- 3. (C) Russia has used the previously scheduled Cooperative Longbow/Cooperative Lancer PfP exercises and U.S./NATO discussions of Georgian military reform to hint at a political price tag for continued cultivation of Georgia as a NATO aspirant. While Russian Ambassador to NATO Rogozin's characterization of the exercises as "an absurdity and madness" were discounted in NATO circles, he accurately channeled Moscow's anger over what was seen as a "business as usual" policy towards Saakashvili, as well as Moscow's strategy of raising the potential costs of participation by other CIS states. Medvedev labeled the exercises "muscle-flexing," an "outright provocation," and "a mistaken and dangerous decision," while Putin questioned the "reset" in U.S.-Russian relations, pointing to the exercises as a "signal in a different direction." Even mild-mannered DFM Ryabkov fulminated publicly against the "cheap and unconvincing arguments" used to justify PfP. Pro-Kremlin and opposition politicians emphasized that a "return to last August" or a "new Cold War" might flow from a continued NATO embrace of Tbilisi. Despite the harsh rhetoric, however, Russia did not place its troops on alert during the exercises, which proceeded smoothly. 4. (C) When it comes to weapons sales to Tbilisi, Russian actions have been harsher. For those few Russian officials willing to believe that the U.S. did not directly goad Georgia into attacking, it is an article of faith that Georgia's military relationship with the U.S. triggered Saakashvili's fateful miscalculation on August 8. While accusing Georgia of 30-fold increases in military spending (at 7-8 percent of GDP), in addition to illicit purchases from Ukrainian and Israeli middlemen, and an overconfidence spawned by U.S. assurances of support, the GOR called for an arms embargo against Georgia in the war's aftermath. Invoking OSCE and UN conventions against the provision of offensive weapons to conflict zones, Medvedev then promulgated a January presidential decree allowing for unilateral sanctions against countries that assist Tbilisi in its "remilitarization." Both Medvedev and Putin appear to believe that the U.S. already has supplied Tbilisi surreptitiously with arms, which illustrates the invidious role, as well as dominance, of the security services in running Russian policy in the Caucasus. A Better Focus: Economy, CBMS, and PfP -------------------------------------- 5. (C) From our perspective, the challenge is to demonstrate that the U.S. will protect its legitimate interests in the Caucasus -- including support for Georgian sovereignty, territorial integrity and the democratically elected government of Georgia -- without triggering a tit-for-tat military escalation that we cannot win, but that Georgia can surely lose. From our vantage point, a burgeoning military supply relationship with Georgia is more of a liability for Georgia than a benefit. It would do nothing to secure a long-term resolution of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, allowing Russia to "justify" its military buildup in the conflict territories, increasing the insecurities of the Abkhaz and South Ossetian populations already distrustful of Saakashvili, and driving the separatist leaders further into Moscow's arms. It would almost certainly raise the temperature, rather than maintaining the unsatisfactory status quo long enough for economic development and confidence-building measures to chip away at the current hostile standoff. The ramifications of a policy clash on weapons sales could also be felt elsewhere, with Moscow seizing a pretext to move forward on the delivery of S-300s to Iran. 6. (C) As we have argued separately (ref b), the U.S. will be most effective in countering Russian actions by acting in concert with Europe to help Georgia demonstrate to the Abkhaz and South Ossetians that autonomy with Tbilisi is better than submission to Russia. Russian corruption, heavy-handedness and reliance on criminalized local leaders ultimately will MOSCOW 00001591 003 OF 003 play to Georgia's advantage. While Georgia cannot reconquer its lost territory by force, it can establish itself as a democratically vibrant and economically successful model for the region. By keeping the international focus on economic assistance to Tbilisi and on creating credible international monitoring regimes, we can create the time and space to intensify cooperation with Russia in other areas of strategic interest, adding ballast to the U.S.-Russian relationship that could make Moscow think twice about exacerbating tensions in the Caucasus. 7. (C) This is not to say that the U.S. should be constrained in providing bilateral non-lethal military assistance, training, or other equipment clearly directed at assisting Georgia's basic requirements to control its borders, maintain law and order and counter terrorism. In addition, we believe that PfP exercises and programs should be pursued as part of the standard NATO toolbox for cooperation with non-member states, notwithstanding Russian rhetorical umbrage. The value of building Georgian capacity for international peacekeeping, counter-narcotics, civil-military emergency preparedness, and anti-terrorism operations is obvious. PfP has the advantage of greater transparency and reinforcing a common U.S.-European approach to Georgia; conceivably, when relations stabilize, Russia could be included as an observer. While Russian forces will remain concentrated in the neighboring territories for the near-term, our goal of securing a Russian drawdown and then departure will not be accomplished through a U.S. military sales relationship or lethal training program. Instead, we should hold Medvedev accountable to the principles of his European Security Treaty initiative, which are based on respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty. Comment: U.S.-Russia Relations Matter -------------------------------------8. (C) We in no way accede to Russian redlines by acknowledging that Georgia could never win a military confrontation with Russia, and should not be encouraged to pursue a strategy that focuses on military force as the underpinning to a stronger, more stable country. We recognize that our suggested approach would be deeply dissatisfying to Saakashvili, but we see no short-term fix to the generational estrangement triggered by the August war and no way to neutralize the advantages of geography, size, and capabilities enjoyed by Russia. Instead, consistent and coordinated initiatives by the U.S. and Europe to assist Georgia, implement monitoring regimes, and persuade Russia to engage credibly will be better advanced in an environment where the U.S. and Russia are not in a hostile standoff. Our assessment is that if we say "yes" to a significant military relationship with Tbilisi, Russia will say "no" to any medium-term diminution in tensions, and feel less constrained absent reverting to more active opposition to critical U.S. strategic interests. BEYRLE CO N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 TBILISI 001123 SIPDIS DEPT FOR P, EUR WHSR PLEASE PASS TO OVP E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/18/2019 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MARR, MOPS, PBTS, RS, GG SUBJECT: IMPORTANCE OF CONTINUED MILITARY ENGAGEMENT WITH GEORGIA REF: MOSCOW 1591 Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 1. (C) Summary. The June 22 kickoff of the U.S.-Georgia Charter Commission will raise the question of the future of our military cooperation. Embassy Moscow's recent cable (reftel) has highlighted Russian views and the potential impact on our attempt to reset our relations with Moscow. There are, however, strong arguments in favor of providing Georgia a modest, transparent defensive capability. We provide our views in this cable. In our assessment, the Russians are effectively using propaganda based in falsehoods regarding the current state of the Georgian military to ratchet up tensions, while simultaneously impressing upon the U.S. that any efforts to provide military assistance to Georgia will pose potential roadblocks to improving the U.S.-Russia relationship. Accepting Russian objections, however, contradicts stated U.S. policies such as rejecting the notion of spheres of influence; refusing a third party veto over NATO membership; and maintaining equal commitment to relations with both Russia and Georgia. It gives Russian disinformation an undeserved voice in U.S. policy formation. 2. (C) Summary, continued: Embassy Tbilisi believes that increased transparent military cooperation could help stabilize the situation in Georgia, as Georgia seeks to develop its defensive capacity -- and even decrease the size of its standing army. Retreating from our commitments would send a profoundly mixed signal to our partners in the region and in western Europe, especially to those who are considering opening up their society, increasing transparency, and seeking increased partnership with the west. Russia will undoubtedly object to increased military cooperation, but the answer is not to validate their concern, but to set the record straight in an organized, aggressive private and public diplomacy campaign with both Russia and our broader partners. To do otherwise would be to reward Russia's aggression in Georgia, as well as its violation of international law and commitments; encourage a similar stance in Ukraine; and deal a body blow to our credibility in Georgia, other Eurasian states, our western partners -- and ultimately Russia itself. End summary. THE GEORGIAN ARMY HAS NOT RE-ARMED 3. (C) Russian claims that Georgia has more military capability now than in August 2008,or that it has been steadily re-arming its forces, are false. During the August 2008 conflict, Georgia lost extensive capabilities, including 30 percent of its armored vehicles, 40 percent of U.S.-produced AR-15 rifles, and at least 60 percent of its air defense capability. These have not been replaced. We are aware of only two deliveries of lethal military equipment since the war: Ejder armored personnel carriers from a Turkish firm, based on a pre-war contract; and 16 armored HMMWVs for the Special Forces Brigade under a program begun in 2007. The latter were purchased using Coalition Support Funds, the case was processed before the August war, and the vehicles would be used in such coalition operations as those in Afghanistan. The U.S. and other NATO partners have moved cautiously since the war. Bilateral military-to-military events between NATO partners and Georgia have been reduced, Qevents between NATO partners and Georgia have been reduced, suspended, even terminated. The U.S. in particular has yet to renew a capacity-building program begun months ago, and we have not executed a single kinetic event since August, despite Georgian desires for more tactical training. The NATO PfP Lancer/Longbow exercises, publicly used by Russia against the Alliance and Georgia, were planned more than a year in advance with full Russian knowledge and possibility for participation. JOINING THE AFGHANISTAN COALITION 4. (C) Secretary Gates' approach on security cooperation of "brains before brawn" (B3) focuses on the intellectual development of the Georgian armed forces and is non-kinetic in nature. The U.S. has now told Georgia we accepted their offer to deploy a battalion for two years in RC-South, one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan. While it is not yet known how much training and equipping will be needed to bring Georgia effectively into the coalition, it is in both U.S. and Russian interests to widen the coalition in Afghanistan. Some lethal training will undoubtedly be involved, and we should not allow Russia to twist any such cooperation in TBILISI 00001123 002 OF 004 Afghanistan, one of the Administration's top priorities, into a phantom threat. MINIMAL DEFENSIVE CAPABILITIES NEEDED FOR SURVIVAL 5. (C) Georgia also wants to rebuild its native defensive capacity, which is currently insufficient to control its own airspace or hinder an invasion from any of its neighbors. Current Georgian operational thinking is that if they can defend Tbilisi from occupation for 72 hours, then international pressure will force the advance to pause. To achieve this extremely limited goal, Georgia needs sufficient anti-armor and air defense capability to stall a ground advance, which it currently lacks. The development of this capacity is not solely equipment-based, but it will require the acquisition of new lethal defensive systems. If Georgia does not procure the equipment from the U.S., it will almost surely seek to procure it elsewhere, as it has done in the past. U.S. involvement would help ensure the transparency of the procurement process itself, as well as increase our control over the amount, type and location of the equipment. 6. (C) In addition, Minister Sikharulidze recently approved an intermediate force structure change that would reduce the Georgian Armed Forces total personnel strength by 6,000 service members from the current 36,000. (Current actual personnel is approximately 31,000.) Without prejudging the ongoing Strategic Assessment process, the Minister has confided to us that the final Georgian force structure will be below 30,000. The Georgians have not publicized this proposed downsizing because they fear that a smaller Georgian Army could encourage Russian armed incursions. Furthermore, a recently proposed further 7 percent reduction in the defense budget will drop Georgia's total defense spending to less than half of 2008 levels. 7. (C) Georgia's military plan is defensive in nature. As EUR Assistant Secretary Gordon recently noted to Georgian Defense Minister Sikharulidze, every country has the right to defend itself - as described in Article 51 of the UN Charter. Russia may argue no weapon is only defensive in nature; anti-tank and air defense systems, however, would not give Georgia the capacity to launch an offensive attack. Russia may argue that Georgia is acquiring other, more offensive systems clandestinely at the same time. There is no evidence to support this assertion, and we would have a much greater degree of influence -- and be in a position to keep Russia well informed -- if we were involved in defensive system procurement. Finally, Russia will likely level allegations of increased Georgian offensive capacity regardless of facts, just as they have done in the Geneva process. Georgia, however, provides far more transparency on its military forces than virtually any country in the world, signing MOUs between the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) and its Ministries of Defense and Internal Affairs that give the observers unprecedented access to Georgian military and law enforcement installations. The EUMM, along with the OSCE, has repeatedly affirmed that Georgia has respected the limits established in those MOUs and has no offensive capability near Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia essentially ignores these statements and continues to level the same allegations, but that bluster Qand continues to level the same allegations, but that bluster does not change the fact of Georgia's continued restraint. As we seek to help Georgia develop its defensive capacity, we could pursue smilar public and/or written commitments from the Georgians on the exclusively defensive nature of the program. 8. (C) We believe that providing Georgia with enhanced defensive capabilities will stabilize the situation. While Russia, as well as the de facto regimes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, may argue otherwise, it is Russia and its proxy regimes that have dramatically increased the militarization of Georgia over the past year. Russia has introduced at least 3,700 troops into sovereign Georgian territory, as well as heavy military equipment, such as tanks, artillery and anti-aircraft systems, into the area immediately adjacent to the administrative boundaries -- in direct violation of the commitments President Medvedev made in the cease-fire agreement. It is Georgia that has lost 14 police officers since the war; kidnappings, cattle thefts, and detentions continue along the boundary, mostly on the Abkhaz and South Ossetian sides. Russian helicopters make regular flights along the boundaries, sometimes crossing them, and Russian forces move large numbers of troops and heavy equipment along the boundaries at will. Meanwhile, the EUMM, OSCE and UNOMIG TBILISI 00001123 003 OF 004 continue to confirm Georgia's cooperative and constructive approach. There is little to deter Russia from taking additional military action, except a legitimate defensive force opposing it. At the same time, such a force would not pose an offensive threat to the regions. 9. (C) Retreating from military cooperation would be a step back from commitments we have made to Georgia and other international partners. Not only will Georgia be disappointed in our diminished support, and hesitant to trust us again, but other partners will draw the same conclusions. The Russia-Georgia war has already led some countries, such as Azerbaijan and the Central Asian states, to question the extent of our commitment, even though we never committed to the direct military defense of Georgia. A step back from commitments we have made would remove any doubt in our unreliability and convince countries from Belarus to Kyrgyzstan, even as they try to recalibrate their own relationship with Russia, that the risks of continuing partnership with Russia are less than those of moving toward cooperation with the United States. One of our specific commitments has been to NATO membership for Georgia, politically at the Bucharest Summit, and at the operational level, with the Georgia-NATO Commission and the Annual National Plan. A key component of that process is the development of Georgia's homeland defense capacity. Since last August we have engaged with Georgia on elements of their preparation for Euro-Atlantic integration, but the military component cannot be deferred indefinitely. The longer we defer action, the clearer the message will be to Georgia and others that our commitment to membership has diminished. 10. (C) Beyond our specific commitment to Georgia, we have made broader commitments not to allow Russia to impose its flawed zero-sum vision on our own strategic view of the world. The Secretary explicitly rejected Russia's notion of spheres of influence during her May 7 meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov. The Vice President rejected the same notion at the February Munich Security Conference. The President himself told President Medvedev the same thing in London. All three have likewise expressed unequivocal support for Georgia's NATO aspirations and territorial integrity. Any perceived or real retreat from these unambiguous statements -- and our special relationship with Georgia makes it a test case -- will raise questions about our leadership. LOOKING AHEAD 11. (C) A difficult, but crucial, element of our strategy for continuing engagement with Georgia while maintaining a good relationship with Russia will be an aggressive private, as well as public diplomacy campaign that is well coordinated with our western partners. Russia will try to spin any military cooperation as negatively as possible, but we must not allow Russian disinformation to go unchallenged. As noted above, we have already taken the first step in our engagement with the Georgian military: agreeing together on the B3 approach. We are currently exploring the best fit for a Georgian contribution to the effort in Afghanistan. Neither of these areas could be considered threatening. A further step, toward helping Georgia improve its defensive capacity, would not be inherently threatening, and could help Qcapacity, would not be inherently threatening, and could help stabilize the situation. We must resist efforts to cast it any other way. Russia will likely continue to portray NATO engagement as threatening. 12. (C) More fundamentally, Russia continues to characterize our differing agendas in the post-Soviet space as a zero-sum, new "Great Game". Unlike in the 19th century, when two empires vied to establish control over the intervening territory in the exclusive pursuit of their own narrow interests, U.S. policy seeks to enable independent countries to make their own choices. However real the perception may be among Russians that the United States is out to get them, we must resist all efforts to confuse that perception with our true intentions. Georgia is seeking to choose its own partners, defend its own country, establish a market-based economy free of corruption, and further develop its young democracy -- and we are helping it do so. Georgia poses no threat to Russia; it wants the political space to pursue its own path. To step back from our mission because Russia mitrusts our motives is to cede to Russia the terms of development in Eurasia for the foreseeable future. 13. (C) There are two practical steps that we might consider TBILISI 00001123 004 OF 004 pursuing to help both address the real danger of instability and blunt Russia's momentum in the public diplomacy sphere. First, we could encourage Georgia to make public and/or written commitments about the exclusively defensive nature of its new military programs. Second, we could encourage Georgia to offer to sign a non-use of force agreement with Russia. Russia has been pushing hard for such an agreement between Georgia and its own regions, which Georgia has understandably been unwilling to consider. If Georgia were to call Russia's bluff and offer to sign such an agreement with Russia itself, however, the burden would shift to Russia to demonstrate the sincerity of its commitment to stability. It is unlikely that Russia, which still maintains the fiction that it is not a party to the conflict, would accept Georgia's offer, but it would be left on the defensive. Meanwhile Georgia could pursue its defensive development with a ready answer to any Russian claims of belligerence or provocation. (Note: Embassy Tbilisi has not explored either of these steps with Georgia, so they are only ideas at this point, but experience suggests Georgia would at least be willing to consider them. The steps Georgia has already taken to provide transparency on its military and law enforcement activities suggest they would be willing to take similar steps. In the months after the war, senior Georgian officials expressed their willingness to pursue a non-use of force agreement if Russia made certain concessions. End note.) COMMENT: BALANCING RISKS 14. (C) Embassy Tbilisi does not question the importance or difficulty of managing our relationship with Russia, especially if we proceed with further military cooperation with Georgia. No matter how loudly we insist on the true state of affairs, most Russians at this point will either not believe us or ignore us, as Embassy Moscow pointed out. There is indeed a risk that taking the next step with Georgia will jeopardize the improvement of our relationship with Russia. There is also a risk, however, that not taking that step will both foster further instability in Georgia and jeopardize our credibility in a much broader space. Furthermore, as past experience has shown, there is yet another risk: that improvements in relations with Russia, even if bought with compromises on other U.S. interests, will not pay off with any real dividends. Embassy Tbilisi would argue that sacrificing a relationship with a dedicated partner like Georgia is the greater risk, because it will only embolden Russia in the future, both to push for more concessions on our part and to reassert its perceived sphere of influence further. Up to this point, Russia has paid no concrete penalty whatsoever for invading and occupying a neighboring country; unilaterally recognizing two of its regions as independent states; violating CFE and cease-fire commitments by vastly increasing its military presence in those regions and not allowing humanitarian access; corrupting the original concept of the Geneva process into a forum to lend legitimacy to the regions; blocking a status-neutral effort by the international community, through the OSCE, to promote stability; and killing the UN Observer Mission in Georgia. Allowing Russia to dictate the pace of QMission in Georgia. Allowing Russia to dictate the pace of military engagement with Georgia will be seen as rewarding Russia for its behavior. It could only be a matter of time before it takes similar actions in Ukraine or elsewhere. TEFFT