Viewing cable 09MOSCOW3139

09MOSCOW31392009-12-29 14:47:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
DE RUEHMO #3139/01 3631447
O 291447Z DEC 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 MOSCOW 003139 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/29/2019 
Classified By: POL M/C Susan Elliott for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: EUR/RPM Director Bruce Turner visited Moscow 
December 16-18 to discuss NATO-Russia relations, the 
Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, the OSCE's 
Corfu Process, and Russia's proposed European Security and 
NATO-Russia Council (NRC) treaties.  MFA officials played up 
the proposed NRC treaty as a legally binding recommitment to 
the terms of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act (though 
excluding many of the commitments made by Russia in this 
document), claiming (unconvincingly) that Russia's desire to 
have a voice in NATO decision-making would not amount to a 
veto.  Russia will consider NATO requests for Afghanistan, 
but gratis donations are unlikely.  MFA disarmament officials 
said Moscow remains interested in reviving CFE, but as the 
Russian military is getting used to life without it, the 
treaty could die completely if the West does not make 
substantial concessions on the Russian flank and Istanbul 
commitments.  Think tank experts and journalists were less 
charitable in assessing Russia's motivations for tabling the 
two draft treaties, which included excluding Ukraine and 
Georgia from NATO, exempting Russia's forces from the CFE 
flank regime, and maximizing Moscow's influence in the former 
Soviet space.  End summary. 
¶2. (C) EUR/RPM Director Bruce Turner and Russia policy 
officer Michael Carpenter met Russian officials and 
non-government experts December 16-18 to discuss European 
security issues in the wake of NATO SYG Rasmussen's visit to 
Moscow a day earlier.  Turner and party met with MFA European 
cooperation department director Vladimir Voronkov, deputy 
Yuri Gorlach, and MFA DVBR conventional arms control director 
Anton Mazur.  Other meetings included Dmitry Danilov 
(Institute of Europe), Pavel Felgenhauer (Novaya Gazeta), 
Dmitri Trenin (Carnegie Center), Fedor Lukyanov (Institute of 
Europe and editor of "Russia in World Affairs"), and Tatyana 
Parkhalina (Center for European Security). 
MFA on NATO-Russia and European Security Treaties 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
¶3. (C) European cooperation director Voronkov said Moscow was 
positive about NATO SYG Rasmussen's visit, particularly the 
commitment to repair relations with Russia and consult on the 
new strategic concept.  However, he noted cooperation would 
be easier if the overall NATO-Russia relationship were 
"reset" on the basis of the European Security Treaty proposed 
by President Medvedev and the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) 
agreement proposed by Foreign Minister Lavrov at the December 
4 NRC ministerial.  Voronkov said Russia wanted NATO 
Strategic Concept discussions to be transparent and welcomed 
former Secretary Albright's planned trip to Moscow to engage 
on the new concept.  Voronkov said the GOR was disappointed 
by Rasmussen's comments on Medvedev's draft European Security 
Treaty (EST) and asked when the U.S. would provide official 
comments.  Turner said the U.S. was still studying Russia's 
proposals and would provide more detailed comments in the 
near future, but asked why new legally binding treaties were 
necessary given that NATO was fulfilling all of its 
commitments in the NATO-Russia Founding Act. 
¶4. (C) Discussing Rasmussen's appeals for assistance in 
Afghanistan, Voronkov said Russia is interested and 
positively inclined towards cooperation, but intimated that 
cooperation would be easier on a fee-for-service basis, 
joking that "Russia is now the most capitalist country in the 
world."  He played up the possibilities for cooperation with 
Russian companies, which should be given opportunity to bid 
on contracts in Afghanistan.  Russia would also like to 
cooperate with NATO on counter-narcotics, missile defense, 
the Cooperative Airspace Initiative, critical infrastructure, 
energy security, and in the military-technical field, e.g., 
training helicopter pilots, maintaining helicopters, and 
providing spare parts. 
NRC Treaty 
¶5. (C) Voronkov and Gorlach portrayed the Russian draft 
"Agreement on Basic Principles Governing Relations among NRC 
Members in the Security Sphere" as the basis for redefining 
Russia's relations with the West, noting that Rasmussen's 
statement that "NATO will never attack Russia" was welcome, 
but should be made legally binding so it will be permanent. 
MOSCOW 00003139  002 OF 004 
Voronkov asserted that just as the 1947 Washington Treaty 
solved the conflict between France and Germany, the NRC 
treaty and EST could eliminate conflict between NATO and 
Russia.  The "indivisible security" concept, according to 
Voronkov, is not meant to give Russia a veto over NATO 
decisions ("We respect NATO's sovereign right to act.") but 
to ensure Russia's concerns are taken into account "up 
front."  (Note: Despite these protestations, the NRC draft 
treaty as written would grant Russia a veto over any 
substantial NATO deployments on the territory of "new" 
Allies, i.e., those who joined NATO after 1997 - as well as 
all other European states.  End note.)  Voronkov's deputy 
Gorlach explained that a NRC treaty is not meant to 
substitute for CFE.  While Russia is not sure whether U.S. 
bases in Bulgaria and Romania currently contain "substantial 
combat forces," Russia is concerned that they could in the 
future, which is why Russia needs the legally binding 
commitment contained in the NRC treaty. 
¶6. (C) Voronkov said the agreement to regulate "incidents 
related to military activities" (Article 3 of NRC treaty) is 
aimed at preventing incidents that could arise from, e.g., 
accidental Russian over-flight of Lithuanian territory or 
close encounters between Russian and NATO ships on the Black 
Sea.  Turner said communications links to prevent such 
incidents would be a good idea and should be explored further. 
¶7. (C) Voronkov agreed that EST should be further discussed 
at OSCE through the Corfu Process and hoped that that HOSG 
involvement in these discussions at a future summit could 
give impetus to "concrete decisions."  He said Russia looked 
favorably at Kazakhstan's proposal -- as incoming 
Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE -- to hold a summit in 2010, 
but offered no ideas for deliverables other than highlighting 
progress on "process" issues.  Turner cautioned that "summit 
fatigue" makes it unlikely the U.S. would participate unless 
there were substantive deliverables. 
¶8. (C) Voronkov echoed the Russian position that this is not 
the time for OSCE to work inside Afghanistan, raising 
concerns for the safety of any OSCE mission.  Carpenter noted 
that an OSCE Election Support Team had nevertheless provided 
valuable assistance inside Afghanistan during the recent 
presidential elections. 
¶9. (C) Responding to Turner's question why Russia was 
retreating from human rights commitments made in the 1990s, 
Voronkov said "We're at a different stage of development" 
from the mid-1990s and no longer need to focus on 
"democratizing" Central and Eastern Europe.  Although an 
exclusive OSCE focus on human rights will bring about 
deadlock, Russia's approach to the "security of the 
individual" will be based on all three dimensions and might 
accommodate U.S. concerns. 
CFE: We're Still Interested 
¶10. (C) MFA Department of Security Affairs and Disarmament 
(DVBR) conventional arms control director Mazur said Russia 
is interested in finding a solution to the current CFE 
impasse, but "not more and not less than our CFE partners." 
He noted that Russia had suspended its implementation of the 
treaty two years ago and the Russian military was "not 
unhappy" with the outcome.  Consequently, there was not much 
time left to save the treaty, probably less than "a couple of 
¶11. (C) Mazur said Russia was very unhappy that language for 
a way forward on CFE agreed by the U.S. and Russia at the 
OSCE ministerial in Athens was rejected by other Allies, 
chiding Turner that "You should keep your Allies in line." 
Turner responded that the U.S. was not inclined to impose its 
will on other CFE States Parties, but was interested in 
forging consensus among them.  Mazur said Russia can still 
work with the Parallel Actions Package, but it was important 
that other Allies not try to improve the package once there 
was an agreement.  Mazur hoped discussions could continue 
among experts in Vienna at the JCG as there is a role for 
Vienna experts in finding a creative solution to the impasse. 
 The NRC treaty could also be discussed in Vienna in the CFE 
MOSCOW 00003139  003 OF 004 
A/CFE Alternatives? 
¶12. (C) Mazur said CFE "modernization" should be seen as an 
ongoing process; States Parties should seek to make some 
updates now and revisit the CFE regime in three to five 
years.  CFE is only viable if it continues to adapt. 
Prolonged absence of a fully-implemented regime will kill the 
treaty altogether.  Mazur noted that the Turkish MFA had 
doubts whether its legislature would ratify an "already 
outdated treaty."  When Turner asked if an interim political 
agreement might substitute for an adapted treaty, Mazur 
suggested U.S. and Russian CFE legal experts would be 
skeptical of the viability of this solution.  On the other 
hand, negotiations on a completely new treaty would probably 
prove too great a challenge; it would be better to build from 
the existing treaty through iterative adaptations. 
¶13. (C) On Georgia, Mazur said the "situation has drastically 
changed."  The (CFE-related) issue was resolved by the events 
of summer 2008: Abkhazia and South Ossetia were no longer 
part of Georgia.  A compromise solution will have to be 
status-neutral, he said, but Russia can provide transparency 
about its forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia just as Turkey 
does with its forces in Northern Cyprus.  "We need to devise 
a face-saving way for the West to drop the issue of the 
so-called Istanbul commitments."  Mazur asserted CFE should 
not be used to solve "sub-regional" problems (i.e. Georgia 
and Moldova); there were other mechanisms, many of them at 
the OSCE, that could better be used, e.g., Chapter X of the 
Vienna Document, and the "Stabilizing Measures for Local 
Crisis Situations." 
¶14. (C) Mazur said the flank issue needs to be resolved 
"sooner rather than later: it can't be put off to the adapted 
treaty."  While conceding that Turkey wanted to preserve the 
flank regime "as a whole," Mazur said Turkey had told Moscow 
it did not consider Russian forces adjacent to Turkey as a 
threat and did not view Russia as a potential adversary. 
Mazur claimed that Norway did not object to the proposal made 
by Marshal Baluyevskiy in 2008 to make all of Russia's area 
of treaty application into a flank zone.  He added that the 
force limitations in the NRC treaty proposal were thought 
through very carefully and implied that Russian forces 
deployed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia would not exceed CFE 
flank ceilings. 
Experts: EST Aims to Restrict the West 
¶15. (C) The experts were in broad agreement that the EST and 
NRC treaty were designed to prevent further NATO encroachment 
on Russia's "near abroad."  Russia was also opposed to 
additional EU enlargement to the same region and tends to 
view the EU's Eastern Partnership in zero-sum terms.  Tabling 
the NRC agreement and EST were, however, fundamentally 
defensive moves, a way to avoid further "losses," 
particularly since Georgia and Ukraine are now formally in 
line to join NATO.  According to Felgenhauer, Russia is 
acutely aware of its weakness vis-a-vis the West and China 
and now only seeks to be a regional power, albeit with an 
irredentist interest in ethnic Russian populations in 
neighboring states.  The experts also agreed that the EST and 
NRC proposals were two-way bets: their acceptance would give 
Russia a veto over NATO, while rejection by the West can be 
used to bash NATO domestically, always popular, and be used 
as a justification for any future Russian military activity 
in post-Soviet space: "We asked you to sign a treaty, yet you 
refused and now we have to make our own security guarantees." 
¶16. (C) Experts also concurred that nobody in Russia believes 
NATO will "succeed" in Afghanistan.  While Russia would not 
hide its pleasure at a U.S. and NATO failure, it would also 
fear the likely increase in extremist activities along its 
southern borders. 
¶17. (C) The Georgian war persuaded the Russian military that 
the fewer "CFE-like" limitations on their forces, the better. 
 They and the Russian political leadership view the world in 
stark neo-realist terms (i.e., balance of power), and are 
concerned with uncertainty about the future, which they 
define in terms of years, not decades.  Hence, while Russia 
MOSCOW 00003139  004 OF 004 
may view the Obama administration as more cooperative, even 
docile, there is a persistent uncertainty about what will 
happen in 2012 or 2016, so Russia must hedge to protect 
against future risks. 
¶18. (C) COMMENT: These discussions with officials and experts 
underscore the different mindsets and objectives Russia and 
NATO bring to their discussions of NRC cooperation.  For a 
NATO focused on new security challenges, Russia can be a 
pragmatic partner for enhancing capabilities (and avoiding 
unwelcome friction) even as the Alliance steadfastly rejects 
the notion of "spheres of influence" and insists that the 
spread of Western institutions and liberal democracy in the 
former Soviet Union is in the interests of both Russia and 
NATO.  For Russia, the prevailing narrative that the West 
"took advantage" of Russia's weakness in the 1990s is used to 
justify a veto over NATO activities in Russia's "near 
abroad," which Russian officials intimate is a precondition 
for enhanced NATO-Russia cooperation.  In this view, 
cooperation with NATO must take place in the context of a 
broad (preferably legally binding) "understanding" that 
respects Russia's "legitimate interests."  The challenge in 
formulating our response to the Russian proposals will be to 
find areas of overlapping interests -- however narrow -- and 
incrementally develop pragmatic cooperation to build a more 
constructive NATO-Russia relationship without sacrificing our 
core principles.  End comment. 
¶19. (U) EUR/RPM has reviewed this cable.