Cablegate: Fsc September 17: Russia and Georgia Continue Feud
PP RUEHAST RUEHFL RUEHLA RUEHMRE RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHVEN #0221/01 2660606
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 220606Z SEP 08
FM USMISSION USOSCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5914
INFO RUCNOSC/ORG FOR SECURITY CO OP IN EUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0585
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 1140
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHMFISS/CDRUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE
RHDLCNE/CINCUSNAVEUR LONDON UK
RUEASWA/DTRA ALEX WASHINGTON DC
RUESDT/DTRA-OSES DARMSTADT GE
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1080
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 USOSCE 000221
STATE FOR VCI/CCA, VCI/NRRC, EUR/RPM, EUR/PRA, EUR/CARC,
SCA/CEN, SCA/RA, PM/WRA
JCS FOR J-5
OSD FOR ISA (PERENYI)
NSC FOR HAYES
USUN FOR LEGAL, POL
EUCOM FOR J-5
CENTCOM FOR J-5
UNVIE FOR AC
GENEVA FOR CD
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PARM PREL KCFE OSCE RS XG
SUBJECT: FSC SEPTEMBER 17: RUSSIA AND GEORGIA CONTINUE FEUD
1. (SBU) Summary: At the September 17, FSC Russia and
Georgia reprised their running feud over culpability for
starting the August war. Russia presented an amateurish
video purporting to show Georgia's responsibility for
starting the conflict and evidence of Georgian attacks on
civilian targets. Georgia vigorously replied, referring to
Russian provocations leading up to the August conflict and
accusing Russia of planning for an attack long before
Georgia's strike on Tskhinvali. The U.S. called for Russia
to observe the cease-fire agreement and cooperate with the
OSCE in restoring peace and stability to the region.
2. (SBU) The head of security cooperation at the OSCE mission
in Bosnia and Herzegovina briefed ongoing work there,
including support to Dayton Article IV arms control, small
arms and ammunition management, and defense reform.
3. (SBU) In the working groups, Estonia agreed that a work
shop on cyber security could usefully occur before an
information exchange on the subject, both proposed in its
draft decision. Turkey and the U.S. urged avoidance of
duplication of programs in discussing the German Food for
Thought paper on landmines and explosive remnants of war.
The U.S. and Azerbaijan noted they were not parties to the
Ottawa Convention and would examine carefully any references
to Ottawa in the paper. The revised Code of Conduct
Questionnaire will be discussed at an informal meeting on
October 3. The sponsors will then present a final version
and push for consensus in time to adopt the revision before
the Helsinki ministerial conference in late November.
Washington, see para 32 guidance request. End summary.
Russia Shows Home Movies, Repeats Litany of Georgian Sins
4. (SBU) Russia (Ulyanov) said Georgia's "criminal
aggression" in South Ossetia had a lasting effect on
international relations. Ulyanov said September 17 marked
forty days since the conflict began: in Christian tradition
this was the date to remember the dead. The events of
"08/08/08" for Russia were akin to 9/11 for the U.S. and as a
result of them Russia had lost any illusions about the
effectiveness of international security but would draw some
useful lessons. Russia was shocked, if not surprised.
Ulyanov hoped his presentation would lead to more complete
understanding for Russia's "partners."
5. (SBU) Ulyanov's comments were accompanied by an awkwardly
produced multimedia presentation that included video news
reports from unidentified networks and what appeared to be
footage taken from cellular telephones or other hand-held
cameras. He had repeated difficulties in synchronizing the
presentation to his narrative.
6. (SBU) Ulyanov said Georgia began planning to expel all
South Ossetians immediately after the "Rose revolution." Many
South Ossetians did flee to Russia. Georgia began arming
itself in anticipation of an attack on South Ossetia.
Ulyanov displayed a table showing exports of tanks, APCs,
artillery, air defense systems, and military aircraft to
Georgia from Ukraine and the Czech Republic. Georgia, he
continued, has omitted from their comments details of their
preparations for attacking South Ossetia. These included the
movement of shock troops, artillery, and armor to the zone of
USOSCE 00000221 002 OF 007
conflict, increased reconnaissance flights over South
Ossetia, and finally the movement of about 12,000 troops by
truck into the area by August 7. Georgian peacekeeping
troops left the Joint Peacekeeping Force headquarters just
before the attack commenced on Tskhinvali.
7. (SBU) Georgia hoped the opening of the Beijing Olympics
would divert international attention from its attack on South
Ossetia. There was no Russian provocation of this attack and
there was certainly no attack by Russian armored forces that
required a Georgian "response."
8. (SBU) Russia went on to charge that Georgia deliberately
targeted civilians and civil institutions like hospitals,
parliament buildings, and schools in Tskhinvali. Georgia
destroyed most of the "old town" there, including the "Jewish
quarter." Georgia used multiple-launcher rocket systems
(MLRS) with cluster munitions against civilian targets. The
result was a "humanitarian catastrophe" with 34,000 people
trying to flee the war but unable to escape because Georgia
had destroyed roads and transport facilities. There were no
medical facilities, food, or water because of Georgia's
destruction of civilian infrastructure. Ulyanov claimed the
Georgian military called the attack on Tskhinvali "Operation
Clear Field." He later showed a video that he said depicted
a Georgian armored vehicle firing on civilian dwellings in
Tskhinvali. The identity of the camera operator or the
vehicle he was riding was unclear.
9. (SBU) Georgia also attacked Russian peacekeepers in South
Ossetia. These attacks and other instances of unusual
brutality, to include the mutilation of corpses, were being
investigated by Russian criminal prosecutors.
10. (SBU) Russia had warned it could not remain idle while
its nationals and other civilians were attacked in South
Ossetia. While Georgia and the U.S. viewed Russia's warning
as a threat, Russia's calls for an agreement to the non-use
of force were ignored. Russian forces were in control of the
south end of the Roki tunnel by the morning of August 8 and
their 58th Army Group and 135th Motorized Rifle Division
moved into the region the same day. Russian aircraft
attacked Georgian radar and other military targets.
President Medvedev explained Russia's response as
necessitated by Georgian aggression in violation of
international obligations, citing the UN Charter recognition
of the right of self-defense. Russian forces provided
humanitarian assistance to civilians as part of their
response to the Georgian attack.
11. (SBU) Ulyanov noted that "our partners have reprimanded
us for our disproportionate use of force." This, he said,
implied some use of force was legitimate. But how should
"disproportionate" be defined, e.g., in comparison with the
NATO air campaign in Kosovo. Russia used force with maximum
restraint but sufficient to stop the aggressor. Russia
admits that some civilians suffered as a result, but blame
for that rests with the Saakashvili regime and its "criminal
Who Knew the Russians Watched Fox News?
USOSCE 00000221 003 OF 007
12. (SBU) Showing satellite or aerial photographs of
Tskhinvali and Gori, Ulyanov claimed they showed the massive
amount of civilian infrastructure damage caused by Georgia in
Tskhinvali and the limited damage caused by the Russians in
Gori. He also showed an excerpt of an interview on the
U.S.-based Fox news network of a 12-year old American girl
and her aunt, who were both in South Ossetia during the
August war and praised the Russian forces for saving them
from the Georgian attackers. The aunt spoke English with a
Russia Complains of Press Cynicism
13. (SBU) Ulyanov described as "cynical" a CNN report that
was captioned "Russia invades Georgia." He said a "code of
conduct" was needed for media covering local conflicts to
prevent mass disinformation.
14. (SBU) A military officer on the Russia delegation, showed
a power point presentation that he said had been captured
from retreating Georgian forces. He described the slides as
the operational plans for the August Georgian attack on South
Ossetia. The captions on the slides were apparently in
Georgian but had been transliterated into Latin script. The
officer claimed Georgia had begun planning for the attack in
2006, which could in no sense be described as "spontaneous."
Georgia Places the War in Context
15. (SBU) Georgia (Giorgadze) said it would defer a complete
reply to Russian accusation until the September 24 FSC. The
Russia presentation, although carefully prepared, was
unconvincing. It was "disgraceful propaganda" and almost
entirely untrue. Russia's title, "the Events of August
7-12," was significant as it omitted the larger context. The
Russian invasion of Georgia was just the tip of an iceberg.
Russia had ignored or rejected Georgia's peace proposals from
2004 on, including the proposal endorsed by the 2005 OSCE
ministerial in Ljubljana. Russia lifted the arms embargo of
South Ossetia in March. Russia established "illegal" links
with South Ossetia and Abkhazia in April. Russia shot down a
Georgian UAV. Assassination attempts were made against
Georgian officials. Russia conducted large-scale military
exercises in July immediately adjacent to its border with
16. (SBU) Giorgadze said the separatists had rejected the
German or "Steinmeier" peace plan. Separatist militias had
shelled Georgian villages and their weapons were provided
through the Roki tunnel, including large-caliber artillery in
violation of the 1992 peace settlement.
17. (SBU) Georgia had called for peace negotiations on August
5 and 7 but the Russian representative to the JCC did not
even attend the meetings. The separatists continued illegal
military operations even after the cease-fire agreement.
Ethnic cleansing of Georgians in the now-occupied areas
continues. Giorgadze said the "empire of evil's" actions are
similar to those of the Soviet Union in its invasions of
Hungary and Czechoslovakia after World War Two.
USOSCE 00000221 004 OF 007
Georgia Says Russia Prepared for War
18. (SBU) Giorgadze said Georgia made no secret of its
rearming, required after it became truly independent with the
"Rose revolution." He recalled Georgia tried to bring
international attention to new Russian and separatist
military facilities in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Georgia
has only four brigades, one of which was involved in the
August events while two were stationed near Abkhazia and the
fourth had been in Iraq. While Russia comments on the
several days needed to deploy the Georgian brigade from Gori
to the zone of conflict, it does not explain how it was able
to deploy an entire army group in a few days without
extensive advanced preparation. He referred to the media
report of intercepted cellular telephone conversations that
suggest a large Russian armored column had been moved through
the Roki tunnel before August 8.
19. (SBU) As to the "captured" operational plans in the power
point, Giorgadze observed that military staffs are charged
with preparing plans for all contingencies and Russia had not
established that the plans displayed were actually those used
by Georgia in August.
EU to Send Monitors
20. (SBU) France (Simonet), on behalf of the EU, welcomed
Russia's implementation of the September 9 agreement and the
withdrawal of its forces to their lines prior to the outbreak
of hostilities. The EU will send 200 observers who will
begin deploying no later than October 1. The EU called for a
peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict based on
international principles of sovereignty and territorial
integrity. The EU called for an inquiry into the conflict
and has appointed an official to lead it. The EU will donate
500 million euros for the 2008-2010 reconstruction of the
U.S. Calls Russia to Comply with Cease-fire
21. (SBU) The U.S. (Neighbour) called for Russia to observe
the cease fire agreement and cooperate with the OSCE in
restoring peace and stability to Georgia. He described
Russian actions after August 7 as "disproportionate."
Who Armed Georgia?
22. (SBU) Russia (Ulyanov), with regard to Georgia's upcoming
presentation on September 24, said the question of who armed
Georgia should be also discussed. Also, why was it
legitimate to recognize Kosovo but not South Ossetia and
Abkhazia. Ulyanov said Georgia's offensive was long- and
well-prepared. Georgia also planned to invade Abkhazia, but
Russia was able to deter this by moving a division there.
The support Georgia receives from others only encourages it
to make more attacks.
23. (SBU) The chair condemned the violence in the region and
called for full implementation of the cease-fire. He called
USOSCE 00000221 005 OF 007
on all sides to protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian
assistance, and allow the return internally displaced
persons. The CiO (Finland) and the Council of Europe are
assessing the state of human rights and compliance with the
OSCE political-military acquis in the region.
24. (SBU) Note: Separately, the chair (Kangaste) informed
the U.S. delegation that Russia will make a presentation on
arms transfers to Georgia on October 1. End note.
OSCE Pol-Mil Activities in Bosnia
25. (SBU) Brig General (retired) Ulrich Heider (Germany),
director of the Department of Security Cooperation at the
OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), reported on
current political-military activities. Heider described the
three main programs as support to the Dayton Article IV arms
control implementation; elimination of excess SALW and
ammunition and improved stockpile management; and defense
reform, particularly through outreach and awareness-raising
events on the democratic control of the armed forces with BiH
parliamentarians. Heider said surplus ammunition was an
immediate and critical issue if BiH is to avoid further depot
explosions. He said efforts to control small arms in
civilian hands were not very successful. His department was
assisting in the drafting of legislation to address the
26. (SBU) The U.S. (Neighbour) praised OSCE efforts in BiH,
particularly in helping BiH to implement the OSCE acquis as
found in the Code of Conduct and the Documents on SALW and
27. (SBU) In the working group, Estonia (Tiigimae), sponsor
with Lithuania of a proposal for an information exchange and
workshop on cyber security (FSC.DEL/125/08/Rev.1), explained
that the workshop could include a threat analysis, "good"
practices, the roles of states and their armed forces, the
private sector, and the individual. Tiigimae anticipated a
broad discussion of cyber security across all OSCE dimensions
resulting in norm- and standard-setting in the workshop. He
also suggested a draft ministerial decision to endorse any
FSC decision taken. The questionnaire for the information
exchange could be developed at or after the workshop.
28. (SBU) Turkey, Germany, Denmark, and Austria supported the
proposal and recommended the draft decision include more
details, specifically the agenda and modalities for the
workshop. Luxembourg (Pilot), urging dispatch, recommended
deleting operative paragraph 1 on the information exchange
and calling for a workshop in the first half of 2009 vice
"within the next twelve months." Ireland, Switzerland,
Slovenia, and Sweden preferred a workshop before the
information exchange. The chair (Kangaste), in response to
the U.S., said a joint workshop with the Permanent Council
(PC) was not expected but he would share information with the
relevant PC committees.
USOSCE 00000221 006 OF 007
29. (SBU) The FSC coordinator for small arms and light
weapons (SALW), UK Colonel Steve Hartnell, described ongoing
- Tajikistan: phase 2 on physical security and related
training will close in late 2008 or early 2009.
- Belarus: the pilot phase of a joint project with UNDP to
improve stockpile management will conclude in late 2008. A
donors' visit in May confirmed progress. The next phase, to
start in 2009, will be based on a revised implementation plan
that reflects increased contributions from Belarus, although
pS funding is needed. There will be an informal meeting soon
to discuss a donors' visit.
- Kyrgyzstan: an assessment visit is planned for October in
response to the Kyrgyz request for assistance. Funding is
30. (SBU) FSC coordinator for stockpiles of conventional
ammunition (SCA), Danish Lt Col Nils Petersen, reported on
- Kazakhstan: an assessment visit was conducted September
8-10, the report of which would be available soon.
- Kyrgyzstan: an assessment visit in September in response
to the Kyrgyz 2004 request for assistance in destroying
SALW/SCA and improving stockpile management and security
recommended OSCE help in re-establishing the Kyrgyz
ammunition testing laboratory. The project is budgeted at
200,000 euros and donors are needed.
- Montenegro: a donors' visit is planned for October 21-23.
Meetings are scheduled with the defense minister, armed
forces chief of staff, the OSCE mission, and project sites.
Code of Conduct
31. (SBU) The FSC coordinator for the Code of Conduct,
Austrian Colonel Anton Eischer, laid out the autumn plan of
work on the revised Code Questionnaire (FSC.DEL/98/08/Rev.3):
- an informal meeting on October 3 to discuss still pending
- followed by circulation of the final revised draft, to be
discussed at the October 15 working group A;
- and subsequent distribution of a draft decision for
approval in the working group action by the plenary before
the ministerial conference at the end of November.
32. (SBU) GUIDANCE REQUEST: Mission request guidance/edits
on the revised Code Questionnaire draft decision for use at
the October 3 meeting. This may be the last appropriate time
to voice our concerns without appearing obstructionist.
USOSCE 00000221 007 OF 007
33. (SBU) Turkey generally supports the
German/French/Slovenian Food-for-Thought paper on landmines
and explosive remnants of war (ERW) (FSC.DEL/126/08) but
wants to avoid duplication of work done by other
organizations. As Turkey is not a signatory to Protocol V of
the Convention on Conventional Weapons it would to delete
reference to it in the paper. The U.S. and Azerbaijan noted
they were not signatories to the Ottawa Convention. The U.S.
and Sweden also urged avoidance of duplication.
34. (SBU) The next FSC meeting will be on September 24. The
Security Dialogue will feature presentations by the Swiss
foreign ministry on the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence
and Development and by Georgia on its conflict with Russia.