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Cablegate: Nato Allies Lack Cohesion During First Meeting On

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S E C R E T USNATO 000281

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2018
TAGS: PREL MARR NATO MOPS PINR GG RS
SUBJECT: NATO ALLIES LACK COHESION DURING FIRST MEETING ON
GEORGIA CRISIS

REF: A. STATE 85678
B. USNATO 279
C. U...

S E C R E T USNATO 000281 NOFORN SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2018 TAGS: PREL MARR NATO MOPS PINR GG RS

SUBJECT: NATO ALLIES LACK COHESION DURING FIRST MEETING ON GEORGIA CRISIS REF: A. STATE 85678 B. USNATO 279 C. USNATO 278 D. USNATO 277 E. USNATO 274 F. USNATO 275 G. USNATO 276 Classified By: Acting DCM Walter S. Reid III for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: At the August 11 NATO Political Committee meeting on the fighting in Georgia, Allies unanimously deplored the Aug 8-11 developments but differed on how these events should affect NATO's relations with Russia. The Balts and Poland would like to suspend the NATO-Russia Council, but Germany, France, and other traditionally cautious Allies argued that this channel of communication should be kept open to help bring an end to the fighting. The NAC will meet August 12 to examine the crisis in Georgia, immediately before meeting with the Georgian Foreign Minister (since cancelled - now with the Georgian Ambassador). While most Allies seem inclined to issue a North Atlantic Council (NAC) Statement on the crisis, there are divisions along traditional lines on whether that statement should contain strong criticism of Russia or simply be "balanced." Many European Allies are concerned that a NAC statement not diverge from the EU's internal consensus-building efforts to be undertaken in Brussels April 12-13. France is also concerned that a NATO statement would undermine President Sarkozy's August 12 trip to Moscow. END SUMMARY 2. (C) NATO Allies met August 11 to discuss Georgia, the first such discussion at NATO since the outbreak of major military operations. The Chairman opened discussions by sharing that on August 8 the Russian Charge had admitted that Moscow had instructed him not to request a NATO Russia Council (NRC) meeting to discuss Georgia. The Russian Charge had also threatened that if the NAC goes through with its planned September visit to Georgia, this would significantly impact the NATO-Russia relationship. (Note: According to the NATO International Staff Russian Ambassador Rogozin has requested to meet with the Deputy Secretary General late on August 11. End note). 3. (C) At the Chair's invitation France briefed on FM Kouchner's efforts on behalf of the EU. Belgium had little detail to share on events under its chairmanship of the UN Security Council. All Allies condemned the ongoing violence, and the Russian violations of the territorial integrity of Georgia. All speakers also hoped that a ceasefire would soon take place. However, Allies were divided on the issue of what political steps NATO can take in order to encourage a speedy end to the fighting and what policy measures NATO should take vis-a-vis Russia as a result of its aggressive conduct in Georgia. Several called for frequent NATO meetings to assess developments. 4. (C) The U.S. shared that Washington views these developments very seriously, and announced the early arrival of Ambassador Volker in order to attend the August 12 NAC meeting on Georgia. The U.S. criticized Russia's disproportionate military operations and assured Allies that, should events develop according to current trends, they could have serious effects on the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship. After indicating that Washington would like a strong statement, the U.S. distributed points (Ref A) that the U.S. believes NATO must make in order to credibly deal with the Russians on this issue. Finally the U.S. listed many of the ways that Moscow is breaching the commitments it made when NATO and Russia agreed to set up the NATO Russia Council. In response to suggestions from the Balts about suspending the NRC (below), the U.S. said consequences for the NRC are worth further considering, and Washington would examine its options further. --------------------------------------------- ---- APPORTIONING BLAME - SOME WANT TO BLAME THEM BOTH --------------------------------------------- ---- 5. (C) While most Allies agreed that Russia is using excessive force, Hungary and Slovakia called for NATO to take into account the role Georgia played at the beginning of this recent conflict, suggesting that Georgia invaded South Ossetia without provocation. Germany asserted Russia "has crossed the red line" by conducting airstrikes within Georgia, but went on to criticize the (allegedly unprovoked) Georgian invasion of South Ossetia. ------------------------------------- NATO RUSSIA COUNCIL - DIVISION OVER ITS POSSIBLE SUSPENSION ------------------------------------- 6. (C) Latvia, echoed by Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland highlighted their Presidents' joint statement on the crisis and invited Allies to support that declaration. Each of these Allies expressed that Russian violence should "not serve the aggressor's purpose" and that NATO should respond by suspending all NRC activity with the exception of any discussion aimed at bringing an end to the conflict. Bulgaria liked the idea immediately. Estonia underlined that NATO must show Moscow that Russia's aggression has larger consequences, while Lithuania underscored that Russian actions will have security implications for the EuroAtlantic Area. Canada, the Czech Republic, the UK and Denmark, found the idea of suspending the NRC "interesting" and agreed to send it back to capitals. Germany argued that there is no mechanism for NATO Allies to suspend the NRC ("this is a very useful body") and called for more consultations with Russia. Norway and France agreed that the NRC should not be suspended. Germany, joined by Norway and France, also argued that the NRC consultation mechanism was needed now more than ever. ------------------------------------- NAC VISIT TO GEORGIA - ISSUE DEFERRED ------------------------------------- 7. (C) Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Canada all asserted that the scheduled NAC visit to Georgia in September should go ahead. Germany the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Turkey said it was too early to decide. Denmark's representative said she would have to ask Copenhagen. --------------------------------------------- --------------- AUGUST 12 NAC - POSSIBLE JOINT STATEMENT EXPOSES MORE CRACKS --------------------------------------------- --------------- 8. (C) Poland called for a very strong NAC statement, and expressed concern that NATO and EU statements on the crisis must be consistent and reinforce each other in order to strongly communicate the level of international condemnation of Russia's actions. The Balts, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and the UK also wanted a strong statement. Germany countered, hoping for harmony between EU, OSCE and NATO messages and cautioning that any statement by the NAC should "help in defusing tensions." This German perspective was backed by France, Turkey, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Italy and Slovakia. Denmark said it needed to take the U.S. points back to capital. France also expressed concern that a NATO statement might undermine France's attempts to negotiate a settlement in its role as president of the EU. ---------------------------- CONCLUSION: UNITED IN PRINCIPLE BUT DIFFICULT TO AGREE ON ACTION ---------------------------- 9. (C) The Chairman, summarizing the meeting, concluded that Allies: -- Generally agree that Russia now bears the burden of responsibility to halt the fighting -- Support the EU and OSCE efforts to end hostilities -- Want the humanitarian situation monitored closely However he also highlighted the lack of unity within the Alliance on the potential content of any NAC statement that would result from their 12 August meeting. ------- COMMENT ------- 10. (C) A number of Allies - especially Germany - are parroting Russian points on Georgian culpability for the crisis. Intelligence releasable to NATO Allies on this point might be a useful tool. 11. (C) All would like an immediate end to the fighting, but some believe that the best way to bring this about is to avoid confronting Moscow by adopting highly critical language. It is clear that many Allies fear a NAC statement could be perceptibly different in tone to the language that will emerge from the EU's PSC on August 12, and the ministerial-level GAERC to be held in Brussels on August 13. 12. (C) In the aftermath of this Political Committee meeting USNATO held a Quad meeting April 11 to try to iron out consensus with the UK, France and Germany (results to be reported septel). WEINROD

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