Cablegate: Scenesetter for Counterterrorism Working Group
DE RUEHMO #1647/01 1621120
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 101120Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8528
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T MOSCOW 001647
FOR UNDERSECRETARY BURNS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/04/2018
TAGS: PREL PTER PINR MARR ECON RS
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR COUNTERTERRORISM WORKING GROUP
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Daniel A. Russell. Reasons 1.4(b) and (d)
1.(C) Summary. Embassy Moscow warmly welcomes you back for the Core Group and 16th session of the U.S.-Russia Counterterrorism Working Group (CTWG) meetings. Your visit will enable us to build on the Strategic Framework Declaration adopted in Sochi, discuss differences on Georgia, Kosovo, and conventional arms sales, and identify ways to strengthen counterterrorism cooperation. Afghanistan is an important area where both we and Russia see opportunities for greater practical measures, and we should build on the Cooperative Threat Reduction program and Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism to enhance our efforts to prevent access to WMD technology by terrorists. At the same time, we should seek ways to encourage the GOR to be more responsive to our UN and Terrorist Financing Designations and requests for law enforcement and intelligence information. End summary.
Core Group Issues -----------------
2. (C) The Core Group dinner on June 19 gives you the opportunity to review implementation of the Sochi Strategic Framework Declaration, including the signing of the 123 Agreement and commencement of the Economic Dialogue, and to address ways we can operationalize other elements, including greater cooperation on counterterrorism through multilateral institutions such as the UN, OSCE, NATO-Russia Council and G-8; deepening our successful cooperation in the nuclear security field; and exploring opportunities to develop joint CT training programs for other countries.
3. (S) Outside the counterterrorism prism, the dinner is a chance to discuss areas of disagreement, including Kosovo, NATO enlargement, missile defense, and conventional arms sales. Kislyak will have returned that morning from Tehran, where he will participate in the joint delivery with Solana of the latest P5 1 proposals. Given Kislyak's late return to Moscow, the dinner may be the best opportunity to get his readout on the trip.
4. (C) The GOR consistently has reiterated its strong support for a continued U.S. and NATO presence in Afghanistan, while expressing disappointment over coalition results in eradicating the drug trade and eliminating the Taliban. Recent Russian expressions of interest in doing more to aid Afghanistan's recovery and stabilization, including Medvedev's first foreign policy address in Berlin, provide an opening for the U.S. and Russia to work together both bilaterally and multilaterally. There are obstacles, of course, including Afghan wariness of Russian involvement and opposition to Russian activities on Afghan soil, as well as Russian efforts to press for stronger links between the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and NATO, and to use the CSTO as a mechanism to implement a March 2007 agreement to provide military training and equipment to Afghan military and border officials.
5.(C) Multilateral: We can encourage Russia to expand its participation in NATO-Russia Council initiatives, and take on greater financial obligations under UN programming. During the April NATO-Russia Council (NRC) meeting in Bucharest, NATO and the GOR signed an agreement to allow non-lethal military equipment to transit Russia en route to ISAF, but we would like to see the GOR agree to broaden the agreement to include military equipment, as well as specifically allowing the equipment to be provided to OEF forces as well as ISAF. Additionally, the NRC decided to make the NRC Project on Counter-Narcotics Training of Afghan and Central Asian Personnel an on-going initiative. In the last two years some 419 trainees from Afghanistan and Central Asia have undergone training. Russia has provided trainers and training facilities for this project, but should be urged to contribute financially to this and other UNODC programs.
6.(C) Bilateral: There appears to be a role for the U.S. in brokering Russia's efforts to expand bilateral cooperation with Kabul. In October 2007, Russia informed us of its proposal to provide $200 million worth of weapons and material to the Afghan National Army, but complained that it had difficulty coordinating with the Afghans. The GOR said that an invitation for Afghan Defense Minister Wardek to visit Moscow and discuss the aid was ignored and the Russian Embassy in Kabul was frustrated in its attempts to discuss the issue with the Afghan MOD and ISAF. In May, we provided the GOR a list of weapons, ammunition, vehicles and other material that Russia could provide the ANA and suggested that Russia work directly with the Afghan MOD and Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) to determine what assistance was required. To date, we have received mixed signals from the MFA and Russian Embassy in Kabul as to what steps Russia has taken to advance its assistance proposal, suggesting a lack of coordination on the Russian side. The CTWG presents an opportunity to reiterate that the U.S. welcomes the Russian assistance offer, encourages the GOR to move forward on this issue, and is prepared to reinforce that message with the Karzai government.
7.(U) Trafficking in opiates from Afghanistan and their abuse are major problems facing Russian law enforcement and public health agencies. The Ministry of Health estimates that up to six million Russians take drugs on a regular basis. There are estimates that nearly 70% of new HIV cases can be attributed to intravenous drug use and 90 percent of injection drug users are Hepatitis C positive. Comments by local Russian officials during Embassy travel to Russian regions through which Afghan opiates are trafficked reinforces the scale of the problem, both societally and through the law enforcement prism. Areas where the CTWG can enhance our cooperation:
8.(C) Quality Intelligence-Sharing: The GOR generally cooperates with U.S. law enforcement on counter narcotics. The most successful examples of this cooperation have been between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Russian agencies targeting cocaine trafficking organizations operating between South America and the port of St. Petersburg. DEA continues to attempt to engage Russian counterparts on the more serious threat posed by the high-value drug trafficking organizations operating along the "Northern Route" from Afghanistan through Central Asia. This engagement continues to receive limited acceptance from Russian counterparts. DEA continues to struggle with Russian law enforcement agencies to obtain pro-active intelligence from their counterparts on high-value targets.
9.(SBU) UN Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Center (CARICC) Membership: We should push the Russians to finalize their participation in CARICC, which is based in Almaty. While the GOR has signaled its intent to join, President Putin did not sign the CARICC Agreement before he left office and the status of the Agreement is uncertain. CARICC will serve as a regional focal point for communication, analysis and exchange of operational information concerning drug trafficking along the "Northern Route" through Central Asia and requires active Russian participation to be effective. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan have all finalized and signed the relevant documents. Given the Russian emphasis on international cooperation within the framework of the UN, CARICC should appeal to GOR geopolitical sensibilities.
10.(SBU) Better Liaison: Now that the GOR has begun establishing Drug Liaison Offices in ten countries (including the U.S., Iran, Afghanistan, and in Central Asia) to facilitate information sharing and joint investigations, we should encourage more vigorous Russian cooperation with their counterparts from the U.S. and elsewhere. The establishment of the State Anti-Narcotics Committee in July 2007 offers an opportunity for the U.S. to share its experience in developing a national drug policy, coordinating the efforts of various government agencies, and participating in international drug efforts.
11.(SBU) Expanded "Operation Channel": Since 2003 law enforcement agencies in the CSTO have participated in a biannual, week-long interdiction "blitz" called "Operation Channel" during which extra personnel are stationed at critical junctures on the Russian border and in Central Asia to conduct increased searches and inspections. The GOR indicated this year that it intended to make this "blitz" year-round. It is unclear what is meant by this. A multi-national, multi-year effort will be required to create effective interdiction capacity in the region. 12, (C) Equipment and Paramilitary Training: The Federal Service of the Russian Federation for Narcotics Traffic Control (FSKN) has expressed interest in improving capabilities through improved tactics, as well as procuring increasingly sophisticated equipment from non-Russian manufacturers. FSKN Generals have met with Russian nationals who locally represent U.S. defense contractors to explore the possibility of acquiring thermal/infrared imaging systems and expressed interest in increased cooperation with USG paramilitary units that have counter-drug experience.
United Nations Designations and Terrorist Financing --------------------------------------------- ------
13. (C) Timely Delistings and Designations: While the U.S. and Russia are working together to update the UNSCR 1267 Al-Qaeda (AQ) and Taliban Sanctions list to combat the upsurge of Taliban violence, Russia continues to argue against the reintegration of Taliban elements into the Afghan government and blocks delisting of names from the 1267 list. Reinforcing and assessing Karzai's strategy of reintegration may help address Russian concerns. We also often have difficulty getting timely Russian concurrence for U.S.-generated AQ additions to the list. Frequently, the GOR cites lack of information sufficient to characterize the individual as a terrorist under Russian law and requests additional information from us. Occasionally, the GOR seeks to use our request as a quid-pro-quo for obtaining our agreement to one of their requests. We should encourage Russia to respond in a more timely and detailed manner to our listing requests. At the same time, to the extent feasible, we should seek to increase the level of detail of intelligence and law enforcement information on the targets that could be released to Russia.
14.(C) Improving Terrorist Financing Capacity: Under existing Russian law, financial institutions are unable to refuse the creation of bank accounts or to block financial transactions deemed threatening or suspicious. These legal prohibitions have stalled the GOR's interagency efforts to implement UNSCRs regarding North Korea (UNSCR 1718) and Iran (UNSCRs 1737 and 1747) and to develop tight oversight of possible terrorist-related money flows. Nevertheless, information sharing based on Gulf-based "charitable organizations" continues to yield benefits in Russia's efforts to disrupt financial flows to the Caucasus, and we should explore ways we could assist Russia more on Caucasus-related terrorism in exchange for better information-sharing on AQ and other extremist organizations of concern to us.
15.(C) Better Regional FATF Compliance: When Uzbekistan issued presidential decrees last year that effectively suspended the country's money laundering regime, Russia reached out through the Eurasia FATF Subgroup (EAG) mission to Tashkent to firmly remind the Uzbeks of their obligations under various UN treaties as well as their commitments to the EAG itself. (At this time the decrees are still in effect.) Russia and the EAG have been active in trying to bring Turkmenistan into the EAG and into compliance with international AML standards. Additionally, Russia has directly or through the EAG sponsored, led, and/or participated in many regional seminars and workshops involving the nexus among financial intelligence, money laundering and law enforcement. Russia provides all the financing for the EAG.
Law Enforcement Cooperation ---------------------------
16.(C) Counterterrorism cooperation between U.S. and the Russian law enforcement agencies is rated as fair. We continue to share information regarding specific cases, including those involving Chechen separatists. A meeting of the biannual counterterrorism meeting of the FBI, CIA, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) took place in November 2007. Agents from the FSB Will attend FBI hostage negotiation training in late 2008. The FSB has invited the FBI hostage rescue team for exchange training with FSB's Alfa Team. 17. (C) El-Zahabi Update: The Russians may raise the return of suspected terrorist Mohamed Kamal El-Zahabi, a Lebanese national, who is currently in removal proceedings in El Paso after having been sentenced to time-served for immigration fraud. He has been charged in Russia with terrorism-related offenses. The GOR request has been pending since December 2005. El-Zahabi's attorney has stated that should removability be established, his client will seek CAT relief if the government designates Russia as his place of return. The USG has not taken a position on country designation, but we have obtained GOR assurances from the General Procuracy concerning representation, treatment and U.S. access during trial. We are seeking additional assurances from the Ministry of Justice concerning treatment and access if he is convicted. As of late May, no future hearing date had been set.
Military CT Cooperation -----------------------
18. (C) Murder of Russian Diplomats in Iraq: You can reaffirm our willingness to assist the Russians in their investigation of the murder of their diplomats. On 31 March 2008, Russian MOD formally requested direct access to Iraqi suspects charged with killing Russian employees in Iraq in 2006, in order for their own law enforcement officers to question the suspects, including with polygraph. The Secretary wrote to FM Lavrov June 2 expressing our willingness to assist Russian investigators once they received permission from the Iraqi Government, as well as to encourage Iraqi authorities to move quickly in responding to the official Russian request.
19. (C) U.S.-Russian Counterterrorism Cross Talks: At the October 2006 Joint Staff Talks, it was agreed to enhance operational and strategic-level CT coordination and cooperation. During the bilateral meeting in April 2008 in Germany between U.S. Joint Staff and Russian General Staff delegations, the Russian side affirmed the possibility of joint military response to a terrorist attack. The Russian delegation head noted the utility of establishing a hotline between CJCS and the Russian CHOD to manage future CT crises, reversing a Russian reluctance to develop such a capability for the past dozen-plus years. The Russians also have pressed for a formal agreement (since 2005) on expanding CT cooperation, "necessary to legally cooperate in this sensitive area;" such an agreement may be finalized during CJCS visit to Russia at end of July and the Russians may insist on a similar type of framework as a prerequisite for substantive cooperation at the interagency level. The Cross Talks also identified a need for interoperability-focused exercises and combined training, exchanges on IED defeat technologies, joint assessment of terrorist TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures), force protection innovations, and intelligence sharing. There appears to be genuine interest by the FSB's CT units also to conduct cross talks with U.S. military counterparts.
20. (C) Reactivation of Intelligence Exchanges: The Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USDI) meeting with Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) earlier this month focused on reactivating intelligence exchanges on topics of mutual interest, principally international terrorism, starting with specialists' meetings in U.S. and Russia this summer and fall; DIA will likely remain principal U.S. military intelligence interlocutor. Intelligence exchanges with the GRU to-date have been of marginal utility, closely aligned with Russian policy objectives (e.g., Georgia as base for Islamic terrorists). The absence of a GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) between U.S. and Russia has also handicapped closer cooperation, requiring case-by-case exceptions to National Disclosure Policy. Even if the veracity of and motives behind GRU's information reports remain questionable, cooperation can help both sides assess the reliability of the information they report, particularly on terrorist threats.
21. (C) Training Centers: The U.S. and Russia engage in combined exercises and training, subject-matter expert exchanges, and courses and seminars that foster interoperability between military operational commands and tactical units involved in precluding or responding to terrorist threats. Russian MOD and Emercon officers attend George C. Marshall and Asia Pacific Center programs on terrorism and security studies. Two International Military Education and Training (IMET) courses in FY09 will focus on CT. If FY09 participation is successful, additional courses and slots will be made available in FY10.
22. (C) Border Security: FSB Border Guards are increasingly employing high-tech networks of sensors to secure remote border areas. Field grade-level officers have repeatedly requested demonstrations on how the U.S. employs sensors along the U.S. southwest border.
WMD: GICNT, Bioterrorism and Smallpox -------------------------------------
23. (C) One of the major success areas of U.S.- Russian counterterrorism cooperation has been in the WMD arena. In addition to reaffirming the existing strong cooperation, the resumption of the CTWG will allow us to press on some stalled initiatives in the biological arena. 24. (C) GICNT and CTR: The U.S.-Russia-led Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, begun in July 2006 now has over 70 Members, and will hold its fourth meeting in Madrid on June 16-18 where we are likely to issue a U.S.-Russia Joint Presidential Statement. Additionally, the Cooperative Threat Reduction Initiative (CTR) has been one of the cornerstones of U.S.-Russian efforts to secure nuclear and biological facilities and materials and prevent WMD proliferation by helping destroy chemical and biological pathogens and chemical weapons stockpiles. CTR goals to complete security upgrades at Russian nuclear facilities are expected to be finished on time by end-2008. Follow-on activities could include securing Russian agreement to provide incident-response training at nuclear sites. 25. (C) Bioterrorism: Despite some recent advances, the scope of future bioterrorism cooperation is not clear. The U.S. and Russia made significant progress on counter-bioterrorism cooperation in 2006 when interagency U.S. and Russian experts met for the first time in years. Both sides agreed to meet regularly. When U.S. and Russian WMD experts met in February 2008, we agreed to hold a joint bioterrorism tabletop exercise and a seminar on assessment methods for bioterrorism threats. In June 2008, the United States shared a proposed agenda for the tabletop exercise and suggested holding the threat assessment seminar and a planning meeting for the tabletop exercise in July 2008. While Russia is currently considering that proposal, our MFA contacts tell us that there is a disagreement between the security services and other agencies regarding the usefulness of further bioterrorism cooperation. In addition, Russian MFA officials have stated that they view a bioterrorism attack as a "virtual" rather than a real threat. 26. (C) Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP): Due to Russia's unwillingness to cooperate on biological threat reduction and enter into a bilateral cooperation agreement, DOD is reducing its engagement in Russia in the BTRP. The CTWG will be an opportunity to further define Russian interest in BTRP, which helps prevent proliferation of BW-related materials, technologies, and expertise to combat bioterrorism. DOD currently consolidates and secures dangerous pathogens at five sites in Russia, improves safety and security of bio facilities involved in threat agent detection and response, enhances ability to detect and respond to bioterror attacks, and destroys former BW facilities. 27. (SBU) Smallpox: The resumption of U.S.-Russian collaboration on joint smallpox research, including the joint development of antiviral medications or improved vaccines that could be used in the event of a biological attack, has been stalled for over a year in the Russian bureaucratic approval process. In May 2008, A Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) delegation led by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness Gerald Parker discussed the status of Russian approval to resume joint smallpox research with Deputy Health and Social Development Minister Ruslan Khalfin and with Gennadiy Onishchenko, Russia's Chief Medical Officer and head of the Federal Surveillance Service for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being (Rospotrebnadzor). Onishchenko stated that Russia would approve at least two of three proposed joint U.S.-Russian research projects, but he would not commit to a timetable. Russian health officials do not share our sense of urgency about the need to restart joint smallpox research. Similarly, they appear unconcerned about the growing chorus of nations at the World Health Assembly calling for destruction of the only declared smallpox repositories at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and at the Vector State Research Center for Virology and Biotechnology near Novosibirsk.
28. (S) The U.S. and Russia continue to cooperate to prevent the spread of Man-Portable Defense Systems (MANPADS). On July 25-27, 2007, the U.S. and Russia held the fourth Experts meeting to implement the bilateral MANPADS Arrangement that Secretary Rice and then Foreign Minister Ivanov signed in February 2005. The delegations discussed MANPADS transfers to third countries as well as policy and legislative updates. The Russians raised concerns about reported Georgian efforts to acquire MANPADS from Poland. Demarches were presented to Poland and Georgia to discourage the transfer, but there has been no confirmation that the transfer did not occur. We have delivered demarches to the GOR regarding the possible sale of MANPADS to Syria, which Russia has denied.
Transportation Security -----------------------
29. (SBU) Air Marshal Agreement: The MFA has previously shown interest in an air marshal agreement, but only with the condition that the arms would be turned over to the Russian government when the marshals deboard. The Russians are comfortable with a diplomatic note serving as the agreement mechanism, rather than a formal international agreement. Meanwhile, TSA and its local counterpart FANA have a good working relationship on security matters.
30. (C) Nuclear Weapons Transportation Security (NWTS) Program: The ongoing NWTS program enhances security and safety of nuclear weapons during shipment from deployment locations to dismantlement facilities or national stockpile sites. The Transportation Safety Enhancement Project was completed in FY 2006, providing 14 trucks to transport emergency support modules and 78 tents to upgrade shelters at accident sites. DoD funds approximately 48 rail shipments annually, procures and maintains up to 100 new cargo railcars and 15 guard railcars.
31. (C) Port Security: Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and FSB coordinate on conduct of force protection assessments at Russian ports visited by U.S. ships. The FSB Border Guards' relationship with USCG District 17 (Northwest Pacific) involves bi-annual visits to Petropavlovsk and Anchorage; participated in North Pacific Coast Guard Forum in April 2007 (Khabarovsk, experts' meeting) and September 2007 (St. Petersburg summit). When the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Commandant visited St. Petersburg in September 2007, FSB Border Guard leadership and civic leaders expressed an interest in working with USCG to improve port security there.
32. (C) The scope of our counterterrorism cooperation with Russia is significant, but there are opportunities to expand what is an essentially good-news story in the bilateral relationship. While the Russians often complain that they are not given credit for the extent of their CT cooperation, they remain resistant to publicizing success stories, in part because of their own sensitivities in not being tied too closely to U.S. efforts to combat Islamist terrorists. However, their public and private disquiet over Afghanistan, and recent baby steps in enhancing non-military cooperation through the NRC, should be taken up by the CTWG as a natural area of overlapping U.S. and Russian interest. The GOR will want to know if U.S. restructuring proposals for the CTWG remain on the table.