Viewing cable 05VILNIUS1017
Title: UPDATE ON SU-27 CRASH INVESTIGATION

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS10172005-09-26 15:18:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 001017 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/25/2015 
TAGS: MOPS PGOV PINS PREL RS UP LH
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON SU-27 CRASH INVESTIGATION 
 
REF: A. VILNIUS 977 
 
     ¶B. VILNIUS 993 
     ¶C. SECSTATE 176092 
     ¶D. VILNIUS 1012 
 
Classified By: Political/Economic Officer Alexander Titolo for reasons 
1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
¶1.  (C) The GOL's leadership continued to take a softer line 
on September 26 on the crash of a Russian Su-27 in Lithuania 
on September 15 (ref A).  A senior briefer stated today that 
the GOL has "no evidence" that Russia intentionally violated 
Lithuanian airspace.  Work on decoding the black boxes is 
proceeding with the assistance of technical experts from 
Ukraine.  The GOL does not foresee a formal request to NATO 
for assistance.  The Russian pilot remains in Lithuania, but 
the Government is working intensively to release the pilot 
promptly.  The head of the crash investigation said Russian 
observers are present for all stages of the inquiry, but that 
the Russian Government has not been "fully cooperative." 
Senior Government officials stated that this incident should 
raise serious concerns for Lithuania, NATO, and the EU about 
dangers stemming from the threadbare state of Russia's 
military, poor coordination of Russia's armed exercises near 
Lithuania's borders, and careless Russian actions such as 
switching off transponders in areas used by civil aviation. 
They promised to raise the issue for appropriate discussion 
in NATO, and possibly in the NATO-Russian Council.  End 
Summary. 
 
STATUS OF THE INVESTIGATION AND PILOT 
------------------------------------- 
 
¶2.  (SBU) MOD Undersecretary Renatas Norkus, in a September 
26 briefing to NATO and EU ambassadors, echoed the earlier 
public statement of Defense Minister Gediminas Kirkilas (ref 
D) that evidence collected so far indicates that the crash of 
the Su-27 in Lithuania was an accident.  (Note: This marks a 
considerable soft-peddling of Kirkilas's earlier charge that 
the incident could have been a deliberate provocation. 
Kirkilas told the Ambassador September 23 that he had done so 
to improve the atmosphere with Moscow.  End note.)  Norkus 
said that work on the black box is underway with the 
assistance of four experts from Ukraine.  (The GOL originally 
requested French assistance, but turned to the Ukrainians 
while the French Government was still considering its 
response.)  Brigadier General Vitalijus Vaiksnoras, head of 
the commission appointed to investigate the cause of the 
crash, told the ambassadors that the information on the black 
box has been successfully retrieved, and the experts are now 
working to translate the data into useable information. 
 
¶3.  (C) The Ambassador asked the GOL briefers about the 
status of the investigation and the anticipated timing of the 
release of the Russian pilot.  Vaiksnoras tied the pilot's 
status to the investigation, saying that at the current rate 
of progress, the inquiry should finish soon.  He pointed out, 
however, that the investigatory commission is still awaiting 
information from the Russian government, which ties the fate 
of the pilot to the level of Russian cooperation.  (GOL 
leaders tell us privately that they are eager to remove the 
pilot's situation as a source of contention, and expect the 
Prosecutor General to agree to release the pilot within a 
matter of days.) 
 
NO REQUEST FOR NATO HELP FORTHCOMING 
------------------------------------ 
 
¶4.  (SBU) The Acting Director of the MFA's Security Policy 
Department Algis Dabkus told the assembled ambassadors that 
NATO has been "very supportive" of Lithuania, and that the 
GOL had especially appreciated the Ambassador's September 23 
statement of support.  Vaiksnoras said that the GOL has 
received all the assistance it needs from its NATO allies, 
and does not plan to formally request NATO technical 
assistance.  (That does not mean, however, that the GOL will 
not want to pursue "lessons learned" exercises in appropriate 
NATO fora.)  Specifically, Norkus said Lithuania would be 
eager for discussion of the incident within NATO and possibly 
later in the NATO-Russia Council. 
 
RUSSIA "NOT COOPERATIVE" 
------------------------ 
 
¶5.  (SBU) All three briefers made note of the lack of 
cooperation they perceive from the Russian side. 
Specifically, they said that Russia has refused to explain 
why missiles and radioactive material were on the plane. 
Vaiksnoras said that the GOL had asked the Russians on or 
about September 19 a number of questions and the Russians had 
so far refused to respond.  Norkus expanded on this point to 
highlight GOL security concerns that this event has brought 
to the fore.  He cited the poor state and chaotic 
organization of Russia's armed forces in general and specific 
concerns about the conduct of armed exercises so close to 
Lithuania.  Dabkus said that Minister Lavrov called Foreign 
Minister Valionis to say that the intergovernmental 
commission that Russia canceled last week in response to 
Lithuania's actions in this case should be rescheduled for 
the "nearest future." 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
¶6.  (C) GOL officials are easing their foot off of the 
rhetorical pedal in order to calm the diplomatic waters.  Our 
success in eliciting supportive comments from NATO 
headquarters about the potential for follow-up reviews of the 
incident and our supportive comments in the press here helped 
to give the GOL room to defuse the confrontation with Russia. 
 The basic concerns of the national security establishment 
here about what the incident says about Russia's intentions 
and capabilities, however, are as strongly felt as ever. 
MULL