Viewing cable 08STATE111775
Title: (U) Secretary Rice's October 9, 2008

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08STATE1117752008-10-21 00:18:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Secretary of State
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O P 210018Z OCT 08
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TO RUEHRA/AMEMBASSY RIGA IMMEDIATE 0735
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 7254
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0202
EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 STATE 111775 
 
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2028 
TAGS: MARR PREL PINS PGOV NATO CVIS LG LH EN
AF, RS, GG, UP, BO, SW 
SUBJECT: (U) Secretary Rice's October 9, 2008 
conversation with Latvian Foreign Minister Maris 
Riekstins. 
 
¶1.  (U) Classified by:  Dan Smith, Deputy Executive 
Secretary, S/ES, Department of State. Reason 1.4 (b) 
and (d) 
 
¶2.  (U) October 9, 2008, 9:00 - 9:30, Washington, D.C. 
 
¶3.  (U) Participants: 
 
U.S. 
The Secretary 
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Robert Gilchrist, EUR 
Sean McCormack, PA 
Carol Beilman Werner (EUR/NB Notetaker) 
 
Latvia 
Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins 
Ambassador Andrejs Pildegovics 
MFA Political Director Peteris Ustubs 
FM's Chief of Staff Ilze Milta 
 
¶4.  (C) SUMMARY. The Secretary met with Latvian Foreign 
Minister Maris Riekstins on October 9, 2008 at the 
Department of State.  Much of the meeting focused on 
relations with Russia.  Riekstins noted Moscow's 
aggressive new foreign policy, which apparently 
included using force to interfere in neighboring 
countries.  Secretary Rice said that Russia's invasion 
of Georgia had been followed by a series of political 
and economic failures for Moscow.  She and Riekstins 
agreed that the West needed to be united in its 
response to Moscow's actions and discussed what that 
response should be.  Riekstins informed the Secretary 
that he was going to maintain long-held plans to visit 
Moscow in two weeks, noting that the visit suited 
Russia's desire to demonstrate that business with the 
West was developing "as usual."  Riekstins promised 
that Latvia would continue to help Georgia integrate 
into the West, but he did not feel that the problems in 
South Ossetia and Abkhazia would soon be solved.  The 
Secretary replied that we should not rush into a 
solution since those regions were still occupied by 
Russian forces; however, she was pleased with the 
generous international financial support for Georgia 
and hoped that foreign investment would soon return. 
The Secretary and Riekstins discussed recent actions 
taken by the Belarusian government to reach out to the 
West and Latvia's approaching membership in the Visa 
Waiver Program. The meeting concluded with Riekstins 
describing the contributions that Latvia was making to 
Afghanistan.  END SUMMARY. 
 
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Russia 
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¶5. (C) Riekstins said that the invasion of Georgia 
demonstrated Russia's readiness to use force to 
interfere in neighboring countries.  He asked Secretary 
Rice what she thought of Russia's apparent desire to 
challenge the current international system, pointing 
out that the previous day Medvedev had publicly 
announced that Russia needed to create a new world 
order to replace the one resulting from failed U.S. 
policies.  The Secretary observed that recent Russian 
actions had met with failure:  Georgian President 
Saakashvili is still in power, Russian forces in 
Georgia have led to Russia's isolation from the West, 
the Russian stock market is crashing, and oil prices 
are falling. 
 
¶6. (C) The Secretary thought that we should now step 
back for a while and ensure that Europe is united on 
its response to Russia.  As a member of the EU and 
NATO, Latvia should work for energy independence, help 
Georgia and Ukraine obtain Membership Action Plans 
(MAPs) at the December NATO Ministerial, and prevent 
Russia from benefiting from its recognition of Abkhazia 
and South Ossetia.  She also wanted Russia to be made 
aware of the unacceptability of using force to draw its 
own lines in Europe and to "protect its citizens" 
residing in other countries.  Overall, such actions 
have served to increase the West's mistrust of Russia. 
 
¶7. (C) Riekstins agreed that unity in the Transatlantic 
 
STATE 00111775  002 OF 003 
 
SUBJECT: (U) Secretary Rice's October 9, 2008 
conversation with Latvian Foreign Minister Mar 
alliance was essential to prevent Russia from 
succeeding with its policy of "divide and conquer."  He 
added that Russia's recent actions had caused 
nervousness in countries of the former Soviet Union 
which are not members of NATO or the EU and have 
significant ethnic Russian minorities, such as Ukraine 
and the Central Asian countries.  He stressed that 
international law, not Russian force, should be used to 
protect Russian "compatriots," not Russian force. 
 
¶8. (C) With respect to the Baltic States, Riekstins 
said there was no feeling of hysteria about Russia and 
that they were willing to focus discussions on 
contingency planning in Brussels, but he pointed out 
that Russian forces had been carrying out exercises 
only 100 kilometers outside of Baltic territory.  He 
then mentioned recent and upcoming activities that 
Latvia found reassuring:  consultations between our 
Department of Defense and the Latvian Ministry of 
Defense on a possible NATO Joint Air Tactical Control 
(JTAC) range in Latvia, Embassy Riga's efforts to bring 
high-level visitors to Latvia from DOD and State, and 
the possibility of NATO exercises in the region.  As 
the Secretary suggested, Latvia was working on 
diversifying its sources of energy.  It was looking 
into an electrical cable from Sweden and was waiting 
for the Department of Energy (DOE) to sign a Memorandum 
of Understanding (MOU) with Latvia on the use of 
renewable energy.  The Secretary said that we would 
follow up on the DOE MOU. 
 
¶9. (C) Riekstins informed the Secretary that he would 
be visiting Russia in two weeks.  He explained that the 
meeting had been arranged before the invasion of 
Georgia, but that he supposed the Russians did not want 
to cancel it in order to show that the invasion had not 
affected "business as usual."  The Secretary concurred, 
saying that the Russians wanted to show they were not 
isolated.  However, we had to show them that they could 
not do what they did in Georgia and maintain good 
relations with the West.  She pointed out that the 
Russian Federation is different from the USSR, which 
did not care what the West thought of it; less than 1% 
of the USSR's GDP came from trade with the West.  She 
wondered what the reaction of the Russian public would 
be if their access to Western consumer goods was cut 
off.  She said that, in contrast with Putin, Medvedev 
realized that domestic discontent could be a problem 
for the government.  The Secretary felt that Medvedev 
looked like he had little authority. 
 
¶10. (C) The Secretary said that during a meeting on 
Iran, she told Lavrov that Russia had failed in 
Georgia.  Riekstins said that he had heard that Lavrov 
did not support the recognition of the independence of 
South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  The Secretary said that 
the Russian MFA had been against it, with reason, as it 
had hurt Russia's relations with China and stirred up 
violence in potential separatist regions of Russia. 
 
¶11. (C) The Secretary told Riekstins she had also asked 
Lavrov why Russian bombers were in Venezuela.  She told 
him that arms sales to Venezuela would not threaten the 
United States, but they would threaten Venezuela's 
neighbors like Colombia, Brazil, Panama, and Mexico. 
She said the United States would continue to cooperate 
with Moscow on issues related to the Middle East, Iran, 
and North Korea. 
 
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Georgia 
-------- 
¶12. (C) Riekstins said that Latvia would continue to 
help Georgia integrate into the West.  At the upcoming 
Geneva Conference, he hoped that participants would 
focus on political as well as financial support for 
Georgia.  The Secretary said that Georgia had been 
receiving enough financial aid to be doing quite well 
with its budget.  In fact, she recently told Lavrov 
that Russia had succeeded in making Georgia the darling 
of the international community.  Georgia now needed 
strong signals of political support so that foreign 
investors would return. 
 
¶13. (C) Riekstins mentioned that the situation in South 
Ossetia and Abkhazia would be debated at the GAERC on 
October 13, but that he did not expect a solution to be 
found in the short run.  The Secretary said that we 
should not rush into a solution since Russian forces 
were still on the ground.  We had to be certain that 
 
STATE 00111775  003 OF 003 
 
SUBJECT: (U) Secretary Rice's October 9, 2008 
conversation with Latvian Foreign Minister Mar 
there would be no Russian military installations or 
reinforcement of forces in South Ossetia or Abkhazia. 
Likewise, Gazprom should not drill there without 
Georgia's approval.  If that were to occur, Gazprom 
would have to choose between doing business in the U.S. 
and doing business in South Ossetia.  Noting that the 
value of Gazprom's shares had recently decreased, the 
Secretary said that Lavrov had told her that Russia 
would be careful of where it did business. 
 
¶14. (C) The Secretary emphasized that it was important 
to do nothing that would change the line between South 
Ossetia and Georgia; no arrangement should be made with 
OSCE monitors that could affect the border.  She had 
spoken to British Foreign Minister Miliband and other 
EU officials about slowing down on South Ossetia.  She 
added that we should make it clear that in areas under 
its control, Russia, not the OSCE, was responsible for 
the safety of Georgian citizens. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
Membership Actions Plans (MAPs) for Georgia and Ukraine 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
¶15. (C) Riekstins underlined that we had to be careful 
to avoid a public clash of views among NATO members on 
MAPs for Georgia and Ukraine, closely consulting with 
both countries before the Ministerial.  The Secretary 
agreed, saying that even with new elections in Ukraine 
it was unlikely there would be a change in government, 
as the President and the Prime Minister each had their 
own constituencies. 
 
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Belarus 
-------- 
¶16. (C) Riekstins brought up the situation in Belarus, 
saying that we had witnessed recent improvements in 
human rights.  Lukashenko, although not a "father of 
democracy", had released political prisoners and 
allowed OSCE monitors during the last parliamentary 
elections.  He was in a tricky situation with regard to 
Russia, and sought to avoid being dragged into the 
Georgia crisis.  The Secretary agreed and said that we 
were engaging the Belarusians in discussions and that 
Deputy Assistant Secretary Merkel had visited Belarus 
twice in the past few months.  She felt there had been 
progress and realized that Lukashenko was reaching out 
to the West.  We are hoping for a loosening of the 
restrictions so that the opposition can compete in 
future elections. 
 
------------------------- 
Visa Waiver Program (VWP) 
------------------------- 
¶17. (C) Riekstins said that it looked like Latvia would 
join the VWP next month.  The Secretary said she was 
unsure of the exact date, but agreed that Latvia would 
soon be part of the program, adding that President Bush 
was pleased.  She asked Riekstins not to tell the press 
what she had said about the VWP beyond the fact that 
progress was being made toward including Latvia soon. 
Riekstins agreed to her request. 
 
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Afghanistan 
----------- 
¶18. (C) The Secretary mentioned that Afghanistan had 
many needs that she hoped Latvia could assist in 
meeting.  Riekstins replied that Latvia was sending 
several dozen troops to supplement the 100 already in 
Afghanistan.  He then mentioned that a group of Afghan 
businesswomen had visited Latvia under the auspices of 
a Latvian NGO and that this NGO was going to cooperate 
in building a business training center for women in 
Afghanistan. 
RICE