Cablegate: Mv Faina: Ukrainian Requests for Assistance And


DE RUEHKV #2127/01 2971348
P 231348Z OCT 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 002127


E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2018

Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4 (b,d).


1.(C) In an October 22 diplomatic note, the Government of Ukraine requested U.S. assistance in supplying food, water, and fuel to the crew of the MV Faina, which was captured by Somali pirates on September 25. Additionally, Ambassador and DATT have been approached by GOU interlocutors requesting we allow a Ukrainian military liaison to be placed on-board one of the US Navy ships currently monitoring the Faina; this request is being reported through DAO channels as well. The GOU continues to emphasize that its primary interest remains the welfare of the 17 Ukrainian crew members aboard the vessel. Officials stress that the GOU will not negotiate with the pirates but hopes that negotiations between the owner of the vessel (through intermediaries in London) will resolve the crisis without loss of life to the crew. MFA is in daily contact with crew relatives. Opposition Party of Regions members claim to have raised ransom money, but GOU officials could not verify this. An interagency task force continues to meet on an ad hoc basis, chaired by National Security and Defense Council First Deputy Havrysh. We were told that coordination is taking place on the ground in Nairobi between Ukrainian and Russian officials, in an effort to secure the release of the body of the deceased ship's captain, who was one of three Russian crew members. End Summary.

Full Text of October 22 Diplomatic Note

2.(C) On October 22, MFA provided Embassy the following diplomatic note, and told us that a similar note has been delivered to our Embassy in Nairobi on October 21. MFA requested that USG reaction be provided via response in Kyiv. Begin Text of Note (Unofficial Embassy Translation): (Complimentary opening)...and has the honor to request facilitation with the case of the Faina cargo ship seized by Somalia pirates. According to the Embassy of Ukraine in Kenya, in the next few days the "Faina" is due to run out of its last supply of fuel, foodstuffs and drinking water. That is why the Embassy of Ukraine in Kenya and representatives of Ukraine,s competent authorities are working on the issue of re-stocking these supplies on the ship. Human life and health, inviolability and safety are recognized in Ukraine as the highest social value. That is why while regulating the situation around the "Faina," the key priority of the Ukrainian party is to insure life and safety of the ship,s crew members. The Ukrainian Party would appreciate it very much if the American party support and help with supplying drinking water, foodstuffs, fuel and other vital supplies, in particular medications, to the "Faina." (Complimentary closing) End Text.

Current Negotiations, Crew Welfare

3.(C) In separate meetings on October 21 and 22, National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) and MFA officials recapped the status of the Faina situation. Both interlocutors made clear that Ukraine has defined its interests in this case as the health and welfare of the 17 Ukrainian crew members on the ship. According to the MFA, the owner of the ship is an XXXXXXXXXXXX . The GoU does not regard the ship (which flies under a flag of convenvience), or its owner, as Ukrainian. MFA and NSDC both indicated that the ship and the cargo both carry insurance (the cargo supposedly insured by the Kenyan consignee.)

4.(C) A British law firm XXXXXXXXXXXX has been retained by the owner of the Faina to act as intermediary, and has been designated as the sole representative of the owner's interests in negotiations with the pirates. Negotiations resumed on October 14.According to MFA, the GoU believes pirates took the retention of the British firm as a positive signal demonstrating the owner is serious about a ransom deal. This may have prompted the pirates to continue negotiations rather than destroy the vessel as they had earlier indicated. MFA told us that the pirates aboard the ship seem to be taking their orders from a source on shore.

5.(C) GoU representatives were sensitive to the possibility that the pirates might sensationalize the situation of the crew in order to increase their bargaining power. The MFA issued a statement the night of October 22, to counter recent reports (attributed to interviews with the pirates) that the crew members are in dire condition due to lack of food, water, and fuel. The statement explained that the GoU would not participate directly in negotiations with the pirates and the shipowner is engaging in talks. Nevertheless, there remains serious concern within the GoU as to the true status of the crew; MFA informed us they are no longer allowed to speak directly with the crew members by telephone.

GoU Coordinating Process

6.(C) Our interlocutors clarified the coordinating process that has developed in the weeks since the Faina was seized. An interagency task force, consisting of the MFA, security services, the Ministry of Transport, and the Ministry of Defense meet on an ad hoc basis under the chairmanship of NSDC First Deputy Havrysh. The most recent (and fifth) meeting took place on October 21.

What if?

7.(C) When asked whether the GoU has a position on use of force in resolving the situation, both MFA and NSDC expressed guarded optimism that the negotiations would ultimately succeed. Both emphasized the GoU position that a peaceful resolution, likely through a successful ransom negotiation, is the only acceptable outcome from Ukraine's perspective. MFA also noted that Ukraine does not have any military assets capable of using force in this situation. MFA could not say whether the ship owner had provided parameters to his intermediary that would preclude the offloading of any cargo, or whether the owner or intermediary were aware of the U.S. policy regarding use of force in such a situation. Both MFA and NSDC reiterated the GoU's understanding of U.S. policy regarding the potential use of force in case of offloading of the cargo.

Russian Role

8.(C) The MFA indicated that their representative in Nairobi was coordinating with Russian representatives there for the release of the body of the Russian captain, who died aboard the ship shortly after the hijacking. MFA was interested in knowing what coordination might take place between the U.S. and the Russian ship in the case something were to go wrong, and hostilities were to break out. NSDC voiced a suspicion that Russia's real interest was to disrupt Ukrainian arms trade in the region, which competes with Russian arms trade, noting that most reports of the cables.destination of the shipment and the quantities or values of the shipment were carried and repeated in the Russian press.

Outreach to Crew Families

9.(C) Ukrainian media have focused recent Faina coverage on the anguished families of the crew and their calls for the GoU to pay the ransom to resolve the impasse. Both NSDC and MFA made clear to us that the GoU will not pay the ransom. Opposition Regions Party officials have pledged to raise large sums of money for ransom. GOU officials told us they had no information that such funds actually existed.

10.(C) According to MFA, heavy GoU outreach to the families has softened their criticism, and helped them to understand how the GoU is approaching the situation and why. There is daily contact by phone or in person between families and the MFA in both Kyiv and Odessa, and the GoU has authorized funds for counseling services to be made available at no cost to crew families in the interim while negotiations continue.

GOU Request for On-Board Liaison

11.(C) Ambassador and DATT have been approached by GOU interlocutors requesting we allow a Ukrainian military liaison to be placed on-board one of the US Navy ships currently monitoring the Faina. DAO is reporting this request through separate channels as well.

Comment/Action Request

12.(C) Embassy requests guidance on the US response to the GOU's diplomatic note. A coordinated interagency response to para 11 GOU request regarding on-board liaison officer also requested. TAYLOR

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