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Cablegate: Senior Analyst Warns of the Danger of Ignoring

VZCZCXRO4781
PP RUEHIK RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHSK RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #3597/01 3471155
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121155Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1127
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 003597

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV OREP RS
SUBJECT: SENIOR ANALYST WARNS OF THE DANGER OF IGNORING
RUSSIAN CONCERNS ON NATO AND UKRAINE - MEETING WITH CODEL
DELAHUNT

1. (SBU) Summary: Moscow Carnegie Center Director Dmitri
Trenin provided an overview of Russia-U.S. relations for
visiting Representatives Bill Delahunt and Dana Rohrabacher,
explaining that Moscow was troubled by U.S. indifference
toward Russian security concerns, and that Washington failed
to grasp the problems that would come with pursuing NATO
membership for Ukraine. Trenin advised the U.S. to
recognize Russian red lines in Ukraine, Georgia, and Central
Asia, and hoped that after the Georgian war the West
realized that crossing these lines could bring an armed
response. He conveyed Moscow's shock over the outbreak of
fighting in Georgia, which was seen as an attack made "on
behalf of the U.S.;" Russia's response was intended to deter
similar U.S. support for future clients. Trenin cautioned
that NATO expansion would bring political instability, both
in a divided Ukraine and in the West's relations with
Russia. He reminded the Congressmen that Russians believed
the U.S. promised that NATO expansion would end with East
Germany, and advised the West to integrate Ukraine through
EU membership. Trenin thought President-Elect Obama would
be well served to appoint a "Russia tsar" to engage
comprehensively with Moscow. End summary.

U.S. Indifference toward Russia
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) Moscow Carnegie Center Director Dmitri Trenin told
Representatives Bill Delahunt (D, MA) and Dana Rohrabacher
(R, CA) on December 8 that the rift between Russia and the
U.S. stemmed, in large part, from U.S. indifference towards
Russian interests. He told the Congressmen that it was a
"sad comment" on the state of bilateral ties when Moscow had
to send strategic bombers and naval vessels to the Western
Hemisphere in order to send a message to Washington, which
did not appear to understand any other language. Trenin
advised that the "key to a normal relationship" with Russia
was for the U.S. to maintain a "proper attitude" toward the
former Soviet space. This required understanding that
Russia no longer sought to control its former empire but
wanted to "wield influence" in areas considered key to
national interests. Russia's priority interests were in
Ukraine and Georgia, with secondary interests in Central
Asia.

Red Lines Will Trigger an Armed Response
----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Trenin explained that the war in Georgia "made
clear" that Russia's declared red lines were "real" and, if
crossed, an armed response could be expected. He warned
that Georgia would seem a "sandbox exercise" compared to
what could occur should Russia see a threat emanating from
Ukraine. The current situation was not similar to the Cold
War, but more like 1914 when a minor miscalculation by one
side could lead to a serious provocation. Trenin was
extremely worried in August, when American warships entered
the Black Sea, which could have led to shooting between the
U.S. and Russia. Such a scenario must be avoided in the
future.

Georgia: American Client Strikes Russia
----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Trenin said that the low point in Russia-U.S.
relations came on the morning of August 8, when the Russian
leadership realized that Georgia had attacked South Ossetia.
Both Putin and Medvedev, who were out of Moscow and not
expecting a war, "were clearly shocked" by events as they
unfolded. While the rest of the world was asking "where
will Russia strike next," Trenin maintained that the Russian
leadership was asking "who will be the next Saakashvili to
strike Russia on behalf of the U.S.?" In attacking Georgia,
the Kremlin was "trying to hit at an American client" and
deter the U.S. from backing another troublesome regime in
the former Soviet Union.

5. (SBU) Trenin thought that the danger of a "major war"
over Ukraine had been averted for now, thanks, in part, to
the international financial crisis, which appeared to have
"transported" the Russian leadership's way of thinking from
the nineteenth century Great Game back to a twenty-first
century focus on economic interconnectedness.

NATO Expansion Brings Instability
---------------------------------

6. (SBU) Trenin warned that NATO had come to the point where
any further movement eastward would not increase security,

MOSCOW 00003597 002 OF 002


but cause instead political instability. He advised the
West to start thinking seriously about how to include Russia
in a European security architecture not based upon NATO.
Medvedev's proposed European security treaty was Russia's
attempt to get a guarantee that its interests would be taken
into account by Europe and the U.S.

7. (SBU) Trenin explained that Russians believed that the
U.S. promised that NATO would not expand after Gorbachev
agreed to German unification. Whether or not this promise
was actually made, it was important for the West to
understand that Russians believed in it and saw continued
NATO expansion as testimony to "bad intentions" toward
Russia. He stressed that there was a "very wide perception"
in Russia of Western "unfaithfulness," which was used by
Russian hardliners to demonize the U.S. in order to further
their views of how to pursue parochial (and their personal)
interests.

8. (SBU) Trenin thought that if the West wanted to integrate
Ukraine more closQy without causing trouble, it should do
so through the EU and not NATO. He reiterated that Ukraine
was divided on NATO membership, and pursuing this course
could cause serious domestic problems for Kyiv. Trenin
described Ukraine's relationship with Russia as that of an
extended family, in which many Ukrainians "do not want to be
a part of Russia, but do not want to part with Russia
either."

Advice for President-Elect Obama
--------------------------------

9. (SBU) Trenin advised the new administration to have a
"Russia tsar," someone who had the ear of the President and
could engage Moscow in a comprehensive manner. He explained
that "despite all the bluster," Russia's top echelon "craved
respect" and would see the appointment of such a person as a
positive step.

10. (U) The delegation has not cleared this cable.
RUBIN

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