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Cablegate: Reply: Request for Assistance to the Mv Lehmann

VZCZCXYZ0009
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #1264 1841844
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 021847Z JUL 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV PRIORITY 0000
RUEHTL/AMEMBASSY TALLINN PRIORITY 0000
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0000
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0000
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0000
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0000
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 0000
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 0000
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS STATE 071264

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHSA BM CY EN GM NATO RS SO UK UP
SUBJECT: REPLY: REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE TO THE MV LEHMANN
TIMBER

REF: A. A. DIPLOMATIC NOTE NO. 76 EMBASSY OF ESTONIA
B. B. DIPLOMATIC NOTE EMBASSY OF UKRAINE

1. (SBU) This is an action request. Drawing from the points
in
paragraph 3 below, Department requests Posts respond to
diplomatic
notes from the Embassy of Estonia (received 24 June, 2008)
and from
the Embassy of Ukraine (received 23 June, 2008) requesting
supplies
and assistance to Ukrainian and Estonian crew members on the
hijacked
vessel MV Lehmann Timber.

----------
Background
----------

2. (SBU) On May 28, 2008 the MV Lehmann Timber, which we
believe to
be either German- or Cypriot-owned and sailing under the flag
of Gibraltar,
was hijacked by Somali pirates in international waters in the
Gulf of Aden.
(Note: Equasis, a European Commission-French Maritime
Administration sponsored
database, indicates that a German company owns the vessel.)
The crewmembers
were taken hostage and the ship has since been relocated to
Somali territorial
waters. The crew is composed of Estonian, Ukrainian,
Russian, and Burmese
nationals. On June 23 and 24, 2008 the USG received official
requests from
the Governments of Estonia (GOE) and Ukraine (GOU) to
consider transporting
provisions to the ship, including drinking water, food, and
medical supplies.
According to the GOE, the crewmembers had been allowed to
contact family members
and had stated that they were being denied food and water and
that the ship
was running out of fuel. The GOE and the GOU have indicated
that they do
not have assets in the region that would be able to provide
the requested
assistance to the crewmembers.

3. (SBU) ACTION REQUEST: The Department requests that Posts
draw from the
following points to convey a response to the Estonian and
Ukrainian MFAs as
soon as possible. Points were informally delivered on June
26, 2008 to the
Estonian and Ukrainian Embassies in Washington, D.C. USNATO
is authorized
to draw from the talking points in any discussions of a
possible NATO role
in such situations.

--------------
Talking Points
--------------

-- The United States recognizes the importance of the issue
of piracy and
recognizes the concerns of the Republics of Estonia/Ukraine
regarding the
health and well-being of the crewmembers of the MV Lehmann
Timber.

-- We have thoroughly considered your request. Following a
comprehensive
review, we have concluded that, in this particular instance,
we are not in a
position to provide the requested provisions of drinking
water, food, and
medical supplies to the crew of the MV Lehmann Timber.

-- Among the factors that weighed in our decision-making,
two were
especially significant: that providing the requested
provisions would neither
abate nor remedy the circumstances of the crew; and that the
provision of
such assistance only aids the cause of the hijackers and
facilitates ongoing
criminal activity.

-- In recognizing the continued importance of the issue of
Somali piracy more
broadly, the USG took a leadership role in actively
supporting the recent passage
of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1816 (2008).
This resolution
condemns piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast and
encourages States
with military assets in the region to work together to deter
such attacks and
render aid to vessels threatened by or under attack. It also
calls on flag
states to provide guidance and training to vessel crews on
avoidance, evasion,
and defensive techniques; and on ships to avoid the area
whenever possible.

-- For Embassy Tallinn: We commend Estonia's action to
utilize NATO channels to
approach individual Allies for assistance and to draw all
Allies' attention to a
situation with security implications for all.

-- We are prepared to join you in encouraging NATO to review
the issue of piracy,
looking at the specific situation of the territorial waters
of Somalia as well as
the potential for NATO action elsewhere and/or in other
circumstances.

-- We believe the North Atlantic Council should consider how
NATO might assume a
more robust role in combating piracy or, at a minimum,
establish a standing mechanism
for providing assistance to Allies and partners that lack the
capabilities and resources
to respond themselves to acts of piracy.

4. (SBU) For info addressees: If you are approached by your
host government
regarding the MV Lehmann Timber, immediately report this fact
to Washington
and seek Department guidance as to how to respond.

5. (U) This message has been coordinated with DOD, NSC/HSCF
and additional
offices in the interagency. Questions concerning this action
request should
be directed to Mr. Robert Gilchrist, DOS Office Director for
Nordic and Baltic
Affairs, at GilchristRS@state.gov or (202) 647-6556.
RICE

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