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Cablegate: Russia Opens Borders to Caucasus

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS YEREVAN 002367

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EUR/CACEN FOR SIDEREAS, EUR/ACE FOR LONGI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD PREL RS AM
SUBJECT: RUSSIA OPENS BORDERS TO CAUCASUS

Ref: YEREVAN 2216

1. (U) This cable is sensitive but unclassified. Please
protect accordingly.

-----------------
BORDER OPEN AGAIN
-----------------

2. (SBU) On Friday October 22, the Russian government
reopened the border checkpoint Verkhniy Lars that had been
closed September 15, following the Beslan School shootings
in North Ossetia. (Note: Russian MFA confirmed the border
opening. End Note.) The closure had put the squeeze of
Armenian companies importing goods from Russia, raising
transport costs by as much as 30 percent and stalling rows
of cargo-laden trucks at the border. The government of
Armenia had raised the issues on many levels with the
Russian government to no avail.

-----------------------------------------
KOCHARIAN'S CALL TO PUTIN -- COINCIDENCE?
-----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) President Kocharian's official website claims that
he initiated a call to Russia's President Putin the same day
the border opened, October 22, to discuss the "development
and strengthening of Bilateral issues." A source from the
Russian MFA who was familiar with the Kocharian-Putin
telephone conversation said that the October 22 opening was
"pure coincidence and should not be understood to have been
brought about by Kocharian's call." The coincidental nature
of Kocharian's intervention was underscored by press reports
which state that Russia has re-opened its land borders with
Azerbaijan as well.

-------
COMMENT
-------

4. (SBU) The temporary closure of Russia's land border with
Georgia was a strong reminder to Armenia of its dependence
on transit through Georgia and Russia's northern Caucasus,
underscoring Armenia's relatively weak bargaining power in
the region.

5. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Moscow.
EVANS

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