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Cablegate: New Usaid Mission Director's January 24 Meeting with Mfa's

VZCZCXYZ0006
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #0266/01 0321440
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011440Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6371

UNCLAS MOSCOW 000266

SIPDIS

STATE F FOR THE DIRECTOR OF FOREIGN ASSISTANCE, EUR/ACE
AIDAC STATE FOR AID/E&E ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR DOUGLAS MENARCHIK;
AID/E&E FOR BREWER, ROBINSON; AID/DCHA/OFDA

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL KDEM RS
SUBJECT: New USAID Mission Director's January 24 Meeting with MFA's
Konuzin on Partnering for Development

Sensitive but unclassified, not for internet distribution.

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) USAID's New Mission Director called on Alexander Konuzin,
Director for International Organizations of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MFA) on January 24th to discuss the GOR's upcoming visit to
the United States to learn about the USG approach to development
assistance and identify areas of common interest for future
partnering. (Note: President Putin approved a plan on Russia's
Participation in International Development Assistance on June 14,
2007 -- a project often referred to as "RusAID"). The USAID
Director noted that USAID's programs in Russia focus on partnership
and collaboration, and that he will actively seek opportunities to
expand cooperation. Konuzin expressed his hope that Russia could
benefit from USAID's experience in delivering international
assistance and that the visit to Washington scheduled for February
27-29 might serve as a basis for joint development efforts in third
countries in the future. Konuzin said this cooperation would be a
strong step forward to compensate for more confrontational elements
of the bilateral relationship. End Summary.

------------------------------
FROM ASSISTANCE TO PARTNERSHIP
------------------------------

2. (SBU) On January 24th, the newly arrived Mission Director in his
meeting with Alexander Konuzin, Director for the Department of
International Organizations at MFA, stressed the desire to identify
areas of cooperative partnership where the United States and Russia
can advance along a common trajectory. Konuzin expressed deep
appreciation for the assistance provided by the international
community over the last 17 years, but noted that Russia is now
becoming a donor country and that the environment has changed. He
explained that the GOR has begun to view itself as an international
donor, albeit a modest one. Waskin said he would look to the GOR to
help USAID identify and expand areas of cooperation where our
objectives coincide.

-----------------------------
A RUSSIAN DEVELOPMENT AGENCY?
-----------------------------

3. (SBU) The USAID Director reaffirmed USAID's earlier offer to
support Russia's efforts to build its capacity for carrying out
international humanitarian assistance and development activities and
in particular to orchestrate a visit by the MFA, MinFin, and other
interested GOR representatives to USAID in Washington. Konuzin said
the dates of February 27-29th that USAID had previously proposed
were suitable and had been discussed with MinFin (Note: MinFin
coordinates Russia's participation in multilateral development banks
and is a central player in Russia's efforts to create a development
agency. There have been some differences of opinion between MFA and
MinFin regarding the desired shape of the "RusAID" program).
Konuzin noted that MFA and MinFin are still grappling with the
effort to find a common vision for Russia's development agency or
assistance mechanism, but plans are moving forward.

4. (SBU) Konuzin said that Russia needs sound development models,
observing that former Soviet attempts at assistance were not a good
place to start. Konuzin is particularly interested in how, in
practical terms, assistance is organized, planned, funded, and
implemented. (Note: President Putin approved the concept paper for
Russia's Participation in International Development Assistance on
June 14, 2007. Even before President Putin officially endorsed the
project, USAID was working with relevant Russia ministries and other
donors including the World Bank, UNDP, and DFID to jump-start the
idea).

5. (SBU) Konuzin said he believed that these joint efforts could
pave the way for joint U.S.-Russian interventions in third countries
when humanitarian and development situations warrant. Konuzin said
that he needs more examples of cooperative partnership such as this
to counter-balance other challenges to the U.S.-Russia bilateral
relationship. Konuzin cautioned that Russia might not model all of
its work on the U.S. experience, but emphasized that Russia will
seek to learn from the U.S. experience and apply those lessons as
appropriate.

--------------------------------------------- -----
COMMENT: BALANCING BETWEEN ENGAGEMENT AND PROGRESS
--------------------------------------------- -----

6. (SBU) Approaches to advancing USG transformational development
objectives are multifaceted in Russia, often benefiting with
engagement with the host government at some level to achieve

results. In some areas such as anti-money laundering, partnerships
with the GOR have yielded substantial results in reducing the threat
of transnational crime. In health, HIV/AIDS programs under the
Presidential Bratislava Initiative have begun to develop the joint
capacities necessary for Russia to be a strong contributor to
fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa. USAID programs to promote
decentralized governance, fiscal reform, and community development
have also been strengthened by USAID's relationship with local
governments. However, in other areas USAID must find a way to reach
USG objectives of a vibrant civil society, a diverse media
environment, and political pluralism without GOR support.

7. (U) USAID/Russia will follow-up with USAID's Bureau for Europe
and Eurasia regarding the visit planned for February 27-29. Post
anticipates that this visit will include, inter alia, calls on the
Office of the Director of Foreign Assistance, the USAID
Administrator's Office, EUR/ACE, USAID's Bureau for Europe and
Eurasia, and the Office of Management and Budget.


BURNS

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