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Cablegate: Senator Corker's Meeting with Dfm Grushko:

VZCZCXRO8219
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #3492/01 3390813
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 040813Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0965
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 003492

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR PARM KNNP OREP GG RS
SUBJECT: SENATOR CORKER'S MEETING WITH DFM GRUSHKO:
U.S.-RUSSIA RELATIONS, MISSILE DEFENSE, NATO,
GEORGIA

1. (SBU) Summary: Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr
Grushko told visiting U.S. Senator Bob Corker the
U.S. and Russia should build off the Sochi
Declaration to move the relationship forward. The
U.S. was trying to impose its security interests on
Russia with its missile defense proposal. Grushko
reiterated Russia's arguments regarding the war in
Georgia and said it was up to Georgia to determine
the future of Russian-Georgia relations. Senator
Corker responded that while Saakashvili had made
mistakes, Russia's response seemed excessive. End
Summary.

U.S.-Russia Relations Should Build off Sochi
--------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Noting that he hoped for a new start in
U.S.-Russian relations, Deputy Foreign Minister
Aleksandr Grushko told visiting Senator Bob Corker
November 7 that the U.S. was Russia's most important
partner on security issues, and he hoped the two
could build off the Sochi Declaration in seeking to
overcome the obstacles between us. He stressed that
our relations should be on an equal footing, account
for the security interests of both sides, and not
attempt to "impose" one another's security interests
on the other. This was the problem Russia had with
U.S. missile defense (MD) plans; they undermined
Russia's strategic potential. U.S. arguments that
MD was designed to protect U.S. interests and Europe
from an Iranian threat, he contended, were
questioned because Europe had not asked for such
protection. Although Europe was interested in
exploring theater MD, their lack of strong support
for U.S. MD showed we should try to build a system
in common.

3. (SBU) It was also important for the U.S. and
Russia to focus on strategic stability issues,
including arms control and a post-START agreement,
Grushko said. He also lamented the lack of "real
economic ties," saying this was the weakest part of
the relationship. If we were more interdependent
economically, we would listen to each other better
and be more flexible.

NATO Chooses Georgia
--------------------

4. (SBU) Grushko, who is responsible for European
security issues, including NATO, in the Ministry,
reviewed Russia-NATO relations. The most attractive
thing about the NATO-Russia Council (NRC), he said,
was that all members were on an equal footing and
acted in their individual capacities; it was not
"26-plus-1." He lamented that NATO members had
"clearly taken Georgia's side" during the
"aggression of Georgia against South Ossetians and
Russian peacekeepers." Under pressure from the
U.S., Grushko claimed, the NATO Secretary General
had failed to convene an extraordinary meeting of
the NRC to discuss the situation. Despite Georgia's
"violations of all norms," NATO, instead of
condemning Georgia, had granted it the "bonus" of
creating a NATO-Georgia Commission.

5. (SBU) Senator Corker said that while it appeared
that Saakashvili had made a number of mistakes,
Russia's response had gone beyond what was
necessary. In response to his question about the
apparent extensive burning of farmland in South
Ossetia, Grushko claimed Russian troops had not been
involved in such destruction, but he could not
exclude that "others" had done things "not fully in
line with how war should be conducted."

6. (SBU) Grushko reiterated Russian arguments that
their troops had only been sent into the enclaves in
response to the killing of Russian peacekeepers and
to protect civilians. They could have marched on
Tbilisi, since there was "no resistance, and the
Georgian army was running away" but Medvedev had
ordered them to stop. Now, they had withdrawn from
Georgia per agreement with the EU.

7. (SBU) In response to Senator Corker's question
about the future of Russia-Georgia relations,
Grushko said it was up to Georgia to decide.

MOSCOW 00003492 002 OF 002


Referring to historic and "spiritual" ties between
the two countries, Grushko said the events of August
had been "a tragedy." He went through a history of
the region and relations since the fall of the
Soviet Union, saying Russia had never stationed
forces abroad; the peacekeepers in Abkhazia and
South Ossetia (and Transnistria) had already been
there and were kept on pursuant to the agreements
reached in the mid-90's. Russia had withdrawn its
forces in accordance with the CFE Treaty and
Istanbul commitments, and started negotiations on
the few remaining outposts in Batumi and Gudauta.
But then Saakashvili came to power and insisted
Russia withdraw all of its forces, which Russia had
done in 2007. If Russia had kept strong military
units in the two zones, Saakashvili would have
thought twice about attacking Tskhinvali, Grushko
contended. He told the Senator Russia would keep
approximately 7200 troops in the two enclaves to
"prevent a new aggression." Echoing Medvedev's and
FM Lavrov's complaints, he said the EU also needed
to do more to guarantee security.

8. (SBU) The delegation has cleared this cable.

BEYRLE

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