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Cablegate: Russia Favors Flexible Approach On Mercury

VZCZCXYZ0019
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #1935 1891408
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071408Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8924

UNCLAS MOSCOW 001935

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR OES/ENV/HODAYA FINMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV AORC EAGR ETRD RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA FAVORS FLEXIBLE APPROACH ON MERCURY

REF: A. STATE 63943
B. MOSCOW 1816

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) On July 3, we discussed the October 2008 UNEP-hosted
Mercury Working Group Meeting with Vladimir Lenev, Counselor in the
Global Environment and Health Section of the MFA's International
Organizations Department. Lenev confirmed, as discussed in Ref B,
that a consensus had not yet emerged on the best way to address
mercury in the international arena during GOR interagency
discussions between the MFA and the Ministry of Natural Resources
and Ecology. Lenev noted that the GOR's approach to mercury was
flexible and had been evolving over time. At the February 2005 UNEP
Governing Council meeting in Nairobi, Russia initially favored the
USG view of a non-binding international partnership on mercury, but
at the February 2007 UNEP meeting, Russia was more in favor of the
EU position in support of a binding international agreement.

2. (SBU) Lenev thought that the best approach was to move forward on
parallel tracks. Interested nations could participate immediately
in a voluntary agreement or partnership on mercury, while they also
continued discussing, possibly for years, the merits of a binding
agreement. Lenev also said that Russia was ultimately looking for a
cost-effective and inexpensive resolution of all heavy metals in one
package, including mercury, lead and cadmium, as that would make for
a more efficient international process than addressing each of the
heavy metals individually. Lenev noted that some voices within the
GOR wanted to develop the government's environmental protection
authority, but because of the slow bureaucratic pace of adopting
domestic legislation, they were hoping for a binding international
agreement to spur this development. In terms of international
agreements, Lenev opined that Russia would favor addressing mercury
through an amendment to an existing international agreement, such as
the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, because
it would be easier to gain Russian ratification of an amendment to
an existing agreement than to go through the lengthy governmental
approval process for a new international agreement.

3. (SBU) Lenev noted that about one million tons of mercury waste
had accumulated on Russian territory before the collapse of the
Soviet Union. Lenev said that the GOR would be interested in deeper
international cooperation on questions of mercury disposal, joint
scientific studies on the environmental and health effects of
mercury waste, development of alternative technologies to the use of
mercury, and cooperation on mercury in arctic fora, given that
mercury pollution was particularly acute in Russia's northern
regions.

BEYRLE

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