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Cablegate: Tfgg01: Latvia On Georgia/South Ossetia - Blame Russia

VZCZCXRO6558
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHRA #0463 2211440
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 081440Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY RIGA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5136
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L RIGA 000463

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG RU LG
SUBJECT: TFGG01: LATVIA ON GEORGIA/SOUTH OSSETIA - BLAME RUSSIA

Classified By: Charge d'Affairs a.i. Tamir Waser for Reasons 1.4 (b) an d (d)

1. (C) On the afternoon of August 8, Charge was summoned to the MFA to meet with State Secretary Normans Penke to discuss developments in Georgia/South Ossetia, where Penke expressed the GOL's great concern about the escalating situation. While he initially described that he had held discussions earlier in the day with both the Russian and Georgian ambassadors to Latvia, urging both sides to take measures to de-escalate, he later made clear that he and the GOL lay the blame squarely at the feet of the Russians. He noted with amusement, though, that the Georgian ambassador, in describing the GOG's own operations, used the term that Georgian forces were "occupying" South Ossetia, which Penke said was not a "favorable" choice of words.

2. (C) Penke said that the MFA is urging all parties to stand down forces and negotiate. He noted that the Georgian FM had complained to Latvian FM Riekstins in a phone call the morning of August 8 that she could not get a call through to Russian FM Lavrov, and has only been able to speak to DFM Karasin. Penke noted that in a subsequent call with the Finnish FM, the Finns had a call with Lavrov set up for later in the day.

3. (C) Penke stated a desire for a NATO statement on the crisis, but with the NATO Secretary General on vacation, he did not see much possibility for such a statement. He expressed his desire to have NATO at least meet in Brussels on the evening of August 8, to decide how best to put pressure on the Russians to calm events. Penke also mentioned engaging the OSCE, but he did not specify a role for the body.

4. (C) When asked about what he envisioned the French reaction would be in their EU Presidency role, Penke stated that it was hard to tell but that he was mildly optimistic, as he believed the current French government would be more forward-leaning than during the Chirac administration.

5. (C) Penke said that the MFA has no plans to remove staff from their embassy in Tbilisi, and that they had, in fact, ordered their ambassador to Georgia to return to post from his vacation.

6. (U) Penke expressed a desire to remain in close contact with the USG in coming days.

7. (C) Comment: The Latvians view the situation as essentially Russia's fault, although they also feel that Tbilisi has been looking for a provocation to act. In the back of the Latvian's mind is always their own relationship with Russia and they are anxious to ensure that the Russians don't come out of this with a greater sense of entitlement to act in the former Soviet space.
WASER

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