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Cablegate: Tfgg01: Nato Allies Still Divided On Georgia

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DE RUEHNO #0284/01 2251926
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O 121926Z AUG 08
FM USMISSION USNATO
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C O N F I D E N T I A L USNATO 000284
NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/11/2018
TAGS: NATO PREF PREL
SUBJECT: TFGG01: NATO ALLIES STILL DIVIDED ON GEORGIA
STATEMENT

REF: A. USNATO 275
B. USNATO 279
C. USNATO 281
D. USNATO 282

Classified By: Ambassador Kurt Volker for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: The North Atlantic Council (NAC) met August
12 in emergency session to discuss a NAC statement on the
Georgia crisis and to discuss whether to agree to Russias
request for a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC).
Although Allies agreed in principle to begin drafting a
formal statement for subsequent NAC approval, consensus broke
down over timing. The NAC authorized the SYG to engage the
press after the NAC meeting with Georgia scheduled for later
in the day to give an assessment of todays meetings and
Allies positions. Discussions over the text of a statement
will continue in the Political Committee. Allies also
discussed whether to agree to a meeting of the NRC, as Russia
has requested. Nearly all Allies spoke in favor of having the
meeting, while stressing that there could not be "business as
usual." The United States and others reserved and NATO
agreed for today to say there is no agreement on timing of a
possible NRC meeting. De Hoop Scheffer and several Allies
also stressed that NATO would need a strong, unified message
for Russia before such a meeting. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) The SYG opened the August 12 NAC, which had been
called to discuss NATOs response to events in Georgia, by
highlighting the extremely grave political and humanitarian
situation that has developed in Georgia within the last five
days. He made note of Georgias request through NATOs
Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre for
medical and other humanitarian supplies. SYG welcomed the
new U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, Kurt Volker. The
NATO Intelligence Division Chief reviewed the events of the
last five days and provided her assessment that the Russians
were likely to continue supporting the Abkhaz and South
Ossetia forces; will continue to conduct attacks inside of
Georgia proper; and will most likely keep a strong military
presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia for the foreseeable
future. Deputy Chairman of the Military Committee, LTG
Eikenberry, noted that the situation is very fluid and there
are big gaps in NATOs understanding of what is happening on
the ground. He solicited further intelligence flows from
Allies.

--------------------
Timing Is Everything
--------------------

3. (C) The SYG emphasized that he needed to engage the press
later in the afternoon, and the NAC should not be viewed by
the media as "bickering" and incapable of reaching agreement
on a statement. He told Allies that "either they reach
agreement on a statement now, or he would give his line on
the tone of the meetings and do his best to present a
cohesive review of Allies positions." He noted that his
remarks to the press last Friday highlighted the
"disproportionate use of force" by the Russians and he would
use the same term again.

4. (C) There was broad agreement among nearly all Allies that
a statement is necessary, but consensus faltered on the
timing of the statement, with some Allies saying that they
needed more guidance from capitals, and others arguing that
the NAC should wait until French President Sarkozy, in his
capacity as EU President, meets with President Medvedev. The
French PermRep also underscored the sensitive discussions
that FM Kouchner had with President Saakashvili yesterday,
stating that the Georgian President would again call for a
ceasefire, as reason for the NAC to delay its statement.
Other Allies argued that NATO had to coordinate its message
not only with the EU, but also with the OSCE and UN as well.
In addition to the French PermRep, the PermReps from Belgium,
Turkey, and Germany came out strongly against issuing an
immediate statement.

5. (C) Support for an immediate statement came from the U.S.,
UK, Latvia, Bulgaria, Poland, Czech Republic, Norway, The
Netherlands, and the Baltic states. The Czech PermRep asked
why there was a need, at this stage of the crisis, for Allies
to ask for more guidance from capitals. Ambassador Volker
declared that the NAC not only has the authority to speak out
on the crisis, but the responsibility to do so. "This is not
an issue of timing," he said, and observed that any statement
from the NAC would reinforce what the EU and other
international organizations are doing.

6. (C) Ambassador Volker also stressed that we need to be
clear about reality vs. tactics. The reality is that
Russias military action in Georgia was planned, is
disproportionate, is inconsistent with any conceivable
Russian role as peacekeepers and amounts to Russia using
military force to impose its will in the territory of a
sovereign neighboring country. Especially with a number of
members that had been incorporated into the Soviet Union or
part of the Warsaw Pact, this is something the Alliance must
take very seriously.

-----------------------------
But Content is also Important
-----------------------------

7. (C) Many Allies spoke in favor of the U.S. text that was
distributed yesterday as a solid basis to begin crafting a
statement, while other PermReps said that some elements of
the text were more useful than others. Full support for the
U.S. text came from the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, and
Lithuania. The UK, Italy, Canada, and Norway said that
overall the text was good and should be a starting point for
discussions. The Netherlands and Slovakia both said that the
text was fine, but the language on Russian aggression went
too far and was not constructive. Iceland and Hungary called
for a "balanced" text, implying that they felt the language
on Russian aggression was too much.

8. (C) Among the Allies who were not supportive of the U.S
text, the French and Belgians did not directly criticize it
as they preferred to delay the statement altogether, while
Spanish support was weak. By far the most critical Ally was
Germany. The German PermRep said, "The number one priority
for Allies is to support the UNSC and help to defuse the
tension in the region, and a strong statement from the NAC
will not do this." He added that Germany would not support "a
thunderous statement of condemnation." He suggested that for
the NAC statement, Allies should refer to the language from
the draft UNSCR that has been tabled in New York.

9. (C) In the discussion, all Allies agreed that any NAC
statement or press remarks by the Secretary General should:
- Call for an immediate cessation of hostilities;
- Highlight NATOs support of all international efforts to
end the conflict;
- Welcome Georgias cease fire offer;
- Encourage Russian and Georgian militaries to return to
their positions of August 6;
- Reinforce the sovereignty and territorial integrity of
Georgia;
- And note the specific examples of forthcoming humanitarian
aid.

10. (C) The NAC agreed that the Political Committee would
meet that afternoon to craft a statement and to review
developments in Georgia. For the statement itself, other
points that were floated by Allies included:
- The need to find a long term solution to the frozen
conflicts, (Czech Republic);
- Condemning Russia for its aggression, (Czech Republic, UK,
Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia);
- Criticizing Russia for overstepping its peacekeeping
responsibilities, (Denmark, Canada, Slovakia);
- Criticizing Russia for disproportionate use of force,
(Norway, The Netherlands, Hungary).

-------------------------
Humanitarian Aid Starting
-------------------------

11. (U) Lithuania said that it had delivered humanitarian aid
to the Georgian government on August 10. Germany stated that
its first response to the aid request is a one million (Euro)
donation to the UNHCR. Germany is also considering a
donation of medical supplies and tents. Norway, Denmark, UK,
and Canada announced plans to donate humanitarian aid on a
national basis and through international organizations.

-----------------------------
Most Allies Favor NRC Meeting
-----------------------------

12. (C) The vast majority of PermReps called for a NRC
meeting, with many saying that the forum was particularly
important during times of crisis. Many stated that Allies
had to respond to the Russian request to hold a meeting, if
only to not give the Russians propaganda points with the
media. However, many Allies refused the call for an
immediate NRC, instead urging the NAC to develop a unified
Allied position for engaging Russian Ambassador Rogozin. The
SYG, U.S., Estonia, Latvia, Poland, and Bulgaria all said
that the NRC could not continue with a "business as usual"
approach. The SYG warned that Rogozin will be difficult to
manage unless the PermReps have "their act together." No
Ally suggested that the NRC be suspended or terminated.

13. (C) COMMENT: There was broad Allied support for the
SYGs approach to the Georgian crisis in general, and his
handling of the media in particular. This support was
reflected in the consensus to allow the SYG to freely engage
the media this afternoon. Poland informed the NAC that its
Foreign Minister, as well as the Presidents of Estonia,
Latvia, and Lithuania are traveling to Tbilisi to express
solidarity with the Georgians. The Germans were the most
problematic of the difficult Allies in todays NAC. Their
PermRep questioned whether NATO has a role in defusing the
crisis and pushed Allies to follow the lead of the UN. Their
PermRep suggested that NATO, when the dust settles, should
assess all of the "mistakes and miscalculations" which led to
the crisis in Georgia. We assess that the Germans are likely
to not only continue blaming Georgia for precipitating the
crisis, but Berlin also could argue that the U.S.-led efforts
to grant MAP to Georgia contributed to the tense atmosphere
in the region. The German PermRep also mentioned that
Chancellor Merkel will meet with President Medvedev this
Friday. END COMMENT.
VOLKER

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