Viewing cable 05VILNIUS1012

05VILNIUS10122005-09-23 16:28:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 001012 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/22/2015 
REF: A. SECSTATE 176092 
     ¶B. VILNIUS 993 
Classified By: Political-Economic Officer Nancy Cohen for 
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
¶1. (C) Summary.  The GOL accepted Ukraine's offer of 
assistance in analyzing data on the black boxes recovered 
from the Russian Su-27.  The Government softened its rhetoric 
against Russia today, stating that there is no evidence to 
prove the Russian aircraft willfully violated Lithuanian 
airspace and that the incident posed no real threat to 
security.  Lithuanian officials are working to expedite the 
Su-27 pilot's return to Russia.  End Summary. 
¶2. (C) Ambassador and DCM discussed with Minister of Defense 
Kirkilas and other GOL officials Lithuania's plans for moving 
forward on the investigation of the crashed Su-27 per ref A 
instructions.  Kirkilas reported to the Ambassador September 
23 that Ukraine has offered to send a mobile team to Vilnius 
to decode the black box, and asked whether the USG had any 
concerns about Lithuania accepting the offer.  MOD U/S 
Renatas Norkus noted that France, which reportedly has mobile 
decoding capability, did not respond on September 22 to 
Lithuania's urgent request for assistance on this matter. 
Ambassador acknowledged that the Ukrainian offer represented 
an immediate resolution to the decoding issue and advised the 
GOL to accept it.  (The Ministry of Defense subsequently told 
the local press that the Ukrainians would do the job.) 
Drawing on ref A points, Ambassador suggested that the GOL 
submit a formal request to NATO for help on other aspects of 
the investigation, and the DefMin agreed to do so. 
¶3. (C) Ambassador told Kirkilas, as he had FM Valionis on 
September 22, that the GOL should allow pilot Valery 
Troyanov's return to Russia.  Kirkilas agreed (as had 
Valionis) and said the GOL is working with the Prosecutor 
General to effect the release as soon as possible.  President 
Adamkus also told the Ambassador today that he wanted 
Troyanov released "as soon as possible."  The DefMin and 
Commander of the Lithuanian Armed Forces met with the pilot 
and his wife September 23 to, in his words, "emphasize 
humanitarian support for this family that has been caught in 
a quite unusual situation."  U/S Norkus told DCM that the 
pilot could be released as early as September 24 or 25. 
¶4. (C) To give the Lithuanians political cover to get the 
pilot out of here and combat charges that NATO allies had 
abandoned the GOL, the Ambassador provided a radio interview 
in which he: 
-- praised Lithuania's calm, constructive response and 
decision to work with the Russians in an open, transparent 
-- expressed expectation of a quick and smooth resolution; 
-- noted that the matter attracted NATO attention as well, 
and that while he couldn't speak for NATO, he was sure the 
alliance would work closely with the Lithuanians on any 
appropriate follow-up; and 
-- expressed U.S. enthusiasm for the assumption of its NATO 
air patrol responsibilities in the Baltics next week. 
We provided these remarks to the MFA and distributed them to 
the local wire service for the widest play. 
¶5. (U) The Minister of Defense, presenting preliminary 
conclusions regarding the plane in a press conference later 
on September 23, said he had no evidence that the Russian 
plane's violation of Lithuanian airspace was deliberate. 
"Based on the latest information I have received today, I 
would like to declare with responsibility that the 
widely-discussed possibility of a willful violation of 
Lithuania's airspace can be discarded.  Today we do not 
possess any facts to prove it," the Minister told the press. 
Kirkilas also emphasized that the incident "poses no real 
threat to the security of our country, NATO, and the EU." 
¶6. (C) Comment:  The GOL is working quietly off-camera with 
NATO partners and others allies to complete the investigation 
of the crash.  Today's more amicable public line reflects the 
GOL's hope for a concomitant cooling of rhetoric from Russia. 
¶7.  (S) One element of ref A that we have not yet shared with 
the Lithuanians is our judgment that the incident resulted 
from equipment failure.  Such an analysis will prompt 
questions here about our interpretation of the pilot's 
disengagement from a formation flying over the Baltic Sea, 
his switched-off transponder, his reported repeated circling 
of Kaunas, and misleading Russian responses about the plane's 
cargo.  We would much appreciate more information on the U.S. 
analysis in order to fend off such questions.