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Cablegate: Das Kramer and Finnish Dg Eskelinen Discuss

VZCZCXRO5166
RR RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHHE #1173/01 3251426
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 211426Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2765
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHCH/AMEMBASSY CHISINAU 0023
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV 0730
RUEHSK/AMEMBASSY MINSK 0992
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 4714

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HELSINKI 001173

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/20/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV ENRG RU FI EUN BO MD PL UP
SUBJECT: DAS KRAMER AND FINNISH DG ESKELINEN DISCUSS
RUSSIAN AND UMB AFFAIRS

REF: STATE 181103

Classified By: POLCHIEF Gregory Thome for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (SBU) Summary: Deputy Assistant Secretary David Kramer on
15 November met with Finnish Director General Eskelinen and
other foreign ministry staff to discuss U.S. consultations
around the G-8 Political Directors' meeting in Moscow and
Finnish preparations for the upcoming EU-Russia summit on 24
November. In addition, the group spoke informally about
current developments in Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus and
ideas for possible cooperation. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On 15 November, Charge hosted a dinner for DAS David
Kramer and Finnish Director General Kristi Eskelinen. Also
in attendance from the Finnish foreign ministry were Director
for Russian Affairs Olli Perheentupa, Counsellor for Russian
Affairs Paivi Laine, Director for Eastern Europe and Central
Asian Affairs Antti Turunen, Counsellor for Eastern Europe
and Central Asian Affairs Tuula Yrjola, and EMBOFFs. The
discussion covered a wide range of regional and international
issues.

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RUSSIA
------
3. (C) Perheentupa and Laine openly discussed their concerns
regarding the proposed EU-Russia PCA mandate, a key
deliverable the Finns had hoped to present at the EU-Russia
summit on 24 November. Laine stressed that Poland alone was
blocking the proposed language. When questioned about media
reports that France was sympathetic to the Polish position,
Laine clarified that France had agreed with Poland on a
certain technical aspect (Comment: No further information on
what this technical aspect was. End Comment.) but that
France had given its support to the document. When pressed
further on whether other states might be quietly supportive
of the Polish position, Perheentupa and Laine stated with
confidence that the mandate had the support of the other 24
member states including the Baltics.

4. (C) On Russian energy policy in Central Asia, Turunen
stated that he would not be surprised by a gas cut-off this
winter to Georgia but was interested to see how Russia would
handle supply downstream to Armenia, as Turkey was unlikely
to reverse a pipeline to supply it. Turunen described it as
Russia "shooting itself in the foot" with regard to Armenia.

UKRAINE, MOLDOVA, AND BELARUS
-----------------------------
5. (C) DAS Kramer and Eskelinen agreed that Ukrainian
President Yushchenko, whether for health or other reasons,
has not been fully engaged as President of Ukraine, leaving a
power void at the highest level of government. Prime
Minister Yanukovych is stepping in to fill this void and is
eager to prove he isn't a Kremlin puppet. While the Finns
were concerned about the pace of government reform and lack
of transparency in the energy sector, they were cautiously
optimistic about Yanukovych's abilities. Eskelinen also
stated that the Ukrainian government has faced a great deal
of Russian pressure since the customs union with Moldova came
into force and that perhaps Kyiv has not received the Western
recognition for resisting this pressure that it should have.

6. (C) Turunen and Yrjola stated that the recent Russian
suspension of the only passenger train from Chisinau to
Moscow (see reftel) was an attempt to force de facto
recognition of Transnistria on Moldova. Both stated that
they believed this frozen conflict could be resolved if
Moscow chose to act constructively. However, Moscow seemed
satisfied with the status quo and unlikely to help resolve
the current impasse. DAS Kramer made a pitch for moving
forward on creating an alternative, internationalized
peacekeeping force (PKF) to replace the existing Russian PKF.
The Finns were cautious, arguing the need to pursue a
political solution in parallel.

7. (C) DAS Kramer solicited ideas from the Finns on how best
to "stir up" Belarus again, as President Lukashenko appears
to be settling into his new term in office and strengthening
his hold on domestic politics. The Finns lamented the
apparent splintering of the opposition and stated that noted
academic Aleksandr Milinkevich, while popular and respected
abroad, is not a viable option to lead a united opposition at
this time. That said, Eskelinen also opined that the Kremlin
lacked a post-Lukashenko candidate and that this was driving
its current strategy of pressuring Lukashenko while not
attempting to depose him. DAS Kramer noted that there is no
love lost between the Kremlin and Minsk. He suggested that

HELSINKI 00001173 002 OF 002


if Moscow continued to take a tough line, Europe and the U.S.
might be faced with the dilemma of a Lukashenko turn to the
West as a means of alleviating pressure from Moscow.
Eskelinen and her colleagues allowed that this was possible
but agreed that, rather than engaging Lukashenko, Finland
(and possibly the EU as a whole) would prefer to deal with
Prime Minister Sidorskiy. Kramer added that his inclination
was not to afford Lukashenko an easy out of the squeeze from
east and west unless he took concrete steps such as releasing
political prisoners.

8. (C) Comment: On the immediate issues of the EU-Russia
Summit, the Finns' frustration with Warsaw was evident.
Eskelinen and her colleagues also expressed their sense that
Germany is already "feeling the burden" of the next
Presidency, probably exacerbated by Poland's opposition to
the PCA mandate. They welcomed and clearly took on board
several of DAS Kramer's ideas on Russia and Belarus. On
Belarus in particular, Finland has begun engaging opposition
figures and civil society -- including Prime Minister
Vanhanen's recent hosting of Milinkevich and a generous
bilateral grant to the International Humanitarian University
for Belarusian exiles in Lithuania. We will continue to
brainstorm with the Finns and look for areas for cooperation
in advancing democracy in Belarus and the rest of the region.

9. (U) DAS Kramer has cleared this message.
HYATT

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