Cablegate: Senator Lugar Meets Fm Lavrov: U.S. Relations, Post-Start,

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1. (SBU) Summary: In a December 18 meeting, FM Lavrov welcomed
the visit of Senator Lugar as recognition that the Senate
appreciated the importance of relations with Russia. Lavrov
emphasized Russia's interest in concluding a post-START treaty by
December 2009 and urged a "quick start" to the negotiating process.
Criticizing an approach that did not have intrusive verification
measures or count non-operationally deployed warheads, Lavrov argued
that the U.S. and Russia needed to demonstrate leadership on arms
control in advance of the 2010 NPT review. Lavrov charged that U.S.
missile defense TCBMs had been watered down since the November 2007
2+2 meeting and expressed hope that the Obama administration would
undertake a comprehensive review of its strategy to combat missile
proliferation, allowing a return to a more "constructive path."
Largely eschewing his trademark sarcasm, Lavrov added MEPP,
combating piracy, dealing with the financial crisis, increasing
energy security, and resolving the knot of European security issues
to a bilateral agenda. He noted the format of the 2+2 dialogue --
if not the results achieved to date -- was useful. In one lapse,
Lavrov acerbically thanked the U.S. for preventing Russia's WTO
accession, arguing that membership would have intensified Russia's
economic downturn. End Summary

U.S.-Russian Relations

2. (SBU) In a December 18 meeting with Senator Lugar, SFRC
professional staff members, and the Ambassador, FM Lavrov stressed
his appreciation for the visit, viewing it as a sign of the Senate's
commitment to the continuity and importance of U.S.-Russian
relations. Lavrov noted President Medvedev's telephone call to
President-elect Obama, where the importance of an early meeting was
agreed upon, and commented that Russia hoped to see the approaches
and principles enshrined in the April 2008 Sochi Declaration
realized. Lavrov emphasized the scope of the bilateral agenda,
praised the Senator for his personal contribution to strengthening
nuclear nonproliferation cooperation, and said Russia was ready for
frank and open talks conducted on the basis of mutual respect and
interest. Senator Lugar thanked Lavrov for the spirit of his
remarks, noted his role in bringing President-elect Obama to Russia
in 2005, and explained that he would confer with the President-elect
upon his return to Washington on his impressions of U.S.-Russian

Post-START Tops the Agenda

3. (SBU) Senator Lugar expressed hope that the new administration
would get off to a strong start, and noted the important opportunity
presented by the need to negotiate a post-START agreement by
December 2009. Senator Lugar said that he would make his views
known on the need to set up quickly a new negotiating team.
Achieving a post-START treaty would be a historic accomplishment,
both for the bilateral relationship and the international community,
and pledged to work closely with the new administration and with
Russia to identify multiple venues by which to renew cooperation.
Lavrov recalled the Duma's ratification of the six-year extension of
the Cooperative Threat Reduction program to 2013 as an example of
how "joint ventures" in U.S.-Russian foreign policy were both
successful and critical to world peace.

4. (SBU) Lavrov confirmed Russian interest in early negotiations
on a post-START instrument, noting that Moscow had not ruled out
reaching an agreement by December 2009. Russia sought a quick
start, but Lavrov said he appreciated the President-elect's
discipline in not having his advisers engage on foreign policy prior
to January 20, noting that his invitation to meet with
Secretary-designate Clinton in New York on December 16 had been
rebuffed. Lavrov highlighted that it had taken almost a year for
the U.S. to produce the post-START proposal first promised at the
November 2+2 meeting in Moscow, despite the Presidents' instructions
to their teams at Kennebunkport to move forward. Noting U/S Rood's
December 15 consultations with DFM Ryabkov, Lavrov said Russia did
not see any cardinal change in U.S. position from the one presented
a year ago, with the focus on placing limits on operationally
deployed warheads.

5. (SBU) Lavrov argued that the logic of making the Moscow Treaty
legally binding was a "huge step backward," and criticized the U.S.
refusal to count non-operational warheads or to limit deployments to
national territories. This posture was bad for prospects of
reducing nuclear warheads further, and bad for sending a positive
political message in advance of the 2010 NPT review conference.
Lavrov maintained that a willingness by the Secretary during the
July 2008 ASEAN ministerial to consider including strategic areas in
a new treaty was not reflected in the document presented by U/S
Rood. Lavrov reiterated Russian concerns over non-nuclear strategic
weapons, warning that Russia would have little time to distinguish a
conventional missile launched at Osama bin Laden from a
nuclear-tipped missile headed for Russian territory, and flagged
disappointment over U.S. opposition to Russia's proposal to ban

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strategic weapons from outer space. Lavrov underscored that
fundamental differences had not prevented Russia from engaging on
post-START; Russia didn't expect a breakthrough under the Bush
administration, but believed that all possibilities needed to be

6. (SBU) Senator Lugar responded that the Moscow Treaty was "not
the last word" in arms control. Lugar emphasized the importance of
intrusive verification, attributing CTR's success to the confidence
and transparency generated by the strict provisions of the
verification regime. Confidence building measures were critical
both for the U.S. and Russia, as well as for the international
community, which needed to be reassured that the nuclear superpowers
were upholding their NPT commitments. A cavalier approach to
verification would be a mistake, with Lugar expressing confidence
that the U.S. and Russia would be able to move forward. Lavrov
interjected that it would be important to expand the disarmament
process over time. Noting the mushrooming of nonproliferation
initiatives - Global Zero, the Luxembourg Group, the
Australian-Japanese Commission - Lavrov said the task was to reach
out to the UK, France, and China and encourage them to think in
terms of reducing stockpiles. The next circle should include
Pakistan, India, and Israel, followed by a policy of engaging
threshold countries. The U.S. and Russia should not repeat the
mistake made when the NPT was signed, of failing to foresee the need
to prohibit enrichment rights. While pursuing the "very long-term"
objective of a nuclear free world, it was necessary to ensure that
other - equally destructive - weapons did not rise to take their

Missile Defense: Need "Constructive Path"

7. (SBU) On missile defense, Lavrov complained that U.S. positions
had hardened since the 2+2 November 2007 meeting. Noting the
SecDef's offer of a "permanent presence" at the Czech and Polish
sites in his meeting with Putin, Lavrov maintained this step would
have assuaged, if not removed, Russian concerns. While Russia's
preference was for a total re-conceptualization of missile defense,
taking into account Moscow's offer of assistance at Qabala and in
southern Russia, the offer of permanent presence had impressed
Putin. The current proposal of ad hoc visits on the basis of
reciprocity was not a substitute. Lavrov reviewed the history of the
U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and Putin's warnings to the
President that Russia would respond to the development of a U.S.
missile defense system. Russia hoped the new administration would
adhere to its campaign statements on the need to review the
technical and financial feasibility of missile defense, creating a
pause in which to shape a new approach. "Hopefully, we can continue
on a more constructive path."

U.S.-Russian Architecture

8. (SBU) In response to the Senator's question on whether 2+2
served as an appropriate architecture for conducting U.S.-Russian
relations, Lavrov said the format was useful, even if the substance
had proved disappointing. If the administration was ready to
engage, Lavrov repeated, it would find a willing partner in Russia.
Lavrov clarified that Russia did not want to limit relations to the
strategic sphere, which would suggest a return to the Soviet-U.S.
era that was inappropriate given current realities and the prospect
for wider cooperation. In addition to arms control, Lavrov
identified the following areas for enhanced cooperation:

Bilateral Agenda: MEPP, Piracy, Economy, Energy, Security

9. (SBU) Middle East: Lavrov agreed with the Senator that the
Middle East should remain an area of U.S.-Russian partnership.
Noting his role in securing the December 16 UNSCR on the Middle East
peace process - the first in five years - Lavrov suggested that the
change in leadership in the U.S., Israel, and potentially Palestine
would create a new catalyst for moving forward. Russia was waiting
for the results of the Israeli elections. Assuming no radical
change in U.S. position, Russia then would be ready to push for a
continuation of the Annapolis process. (Lavrov speculated whether
Netanyahu's campaign rhetoric suggested a turn away from Annapolis,
back to the incremental approach of the road map, and postponement
of difficult final status issues.)

10. (SBU) Piracy: Lavrov praised the close cooperation that had
been struck on Somalia, pointing to the unanimous resolution reached
at the UNSC. Addressing the root causes of piracy, and the legal
tools to combat it, was an area of overlapping interest.

11. (SBU) Economic Security: Senator Lugar noted the uncertainty
generated by the world economic crisis, which added a new overlay to
the challenges facing world leaders. The Senator recommended a
dialogue that assessed what the crisis meant for the average citizen

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in each country. Expressing concern that the downturn could last
longer than anticipated, the Senator said Russia and the U.S. needed
to find a way back to a world of normal commerce, where Russia
continued its progress of integrating into multilateral economic
institutions. Commenting that Russia had "jumped" into market
mechanisms with little understanding or experience, borrowing from
the West's history, Lavrov attributed some of Russia's economic
crisis to the lack of development of Russian institutions. In a
jab, Lavrov thanked the U.S. for ensuring Russia had not entered the
WTO, since membership would have intensified the economic pain
caused by the current crisis.

12. (SBU) Energy Dialogue: Calling discussions on energy one of
the achievements of the Bush-Putin period, Lavrov downplayed the
benefits to Russia of last year's high oil prices. Pricing needed
to reflect the real economy, and the artificially high prices had
reduced incentives to modernize the Russian economy. Lavrov
complained about the proliferation of "virtual instruments" that
distorted the functioning of the oil market, which Russia had
highlighted at the G20 conference. It was not healthy to leave
decisions on pricing to OPEC, with Russia falling in line, and
Norway contemplating adoption, without a dialogue with the
consumers. Lavrov said Putin supported a broader dialogue,
involving produces, consumers, and transit countries. Both
bilaterally and multilaterally, Russia would support efforts to
produce more equitable arrangements.

13. (SBU) European Security: Lavrov stressed that, as in the
financial sector, the health of one country should not come at the
cost of another nation's military and diplomatic well-being. The
thrust of Medvedev's European security treaty, he argued, was not to
vitiate NATO or the EU, but to bring all parties together to
reaffirm this basic principle. Lavrov expressed concern over the
conclusions Russia should draw from the U.S. rejection of language
at the April NATO summit in Bucharest reaffirming this premise.
While partners told Russia that they were satisfied with NATO,
Russia did not agree. If the indivisibility of security could not
be affirmed, then Russian interests were at risk. Multiple crises
underscored the fragility of the system, including the standoff over
CFE and the "problems with conflict in this space" (i.e., Georgia).
Medvedev's initiative would capture overall security, and could
include issues like counter-terrorism and nonproliferation.

14. (SBU) NATO Enlargement/Georgia: If the NRC could not convene
to discuss the conflict in Georgia, then what was its value? Lavrov
laid down a marker that the resumption of NRC activity would need to
start with a discussion of what happened in August. NATO would need
to answer for why it sought to attract Georgia as a member, when it
had over-armed and assaulted its own people. Lavrov charged that a
"serious situation" had emerged when a U.S. vessel delivering
drinking water to Poti was armed with 52 cruise missiles. With
Medvedev only 150 kms away in Sochi, Lavrov questioned whether it
was in U.S. and Russian interests to run the risk of even an
accidental military escalation. "These are not theoretical
concerns." Senator Lugar welcomed conferences where European
security could be discussed, but without rehashing debates about
Georgia. The Georgia conflict had not been helpful to U.S.-Russia
relations of Russian-NATO cooperation. It made sense to look ahead.
For those in the U.S. who sought to build relations with Russia,
the Georgia conflict had precluded movement on the 123,
Jackson-Vanik, and WTO. For those advocating a bipartisan approach
to Russia, a positive agenda was essential, and post-START provided
an opportunity to refocus forward. The Senator reiterated that
U.S.-Russian leadership on critical issues gave confidence to the
international community, to which Lavrov concluded the meeting with
a forceful "I agree."


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