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Cablegate: Hfac Chairman Berman Meets Duma Irc Chairman Kosachev:

DE RUEHMO #3127/01 2971355
O 231355Z OCT 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: Duma International Relations Committee Chair
Kosachev told House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Berman
October 14 that the difficult state of U.S.-Russian relations was
due to Russia's "disappointment" over European security structures
following the end of the Cold War. He said that mistakes had been
made "on both sides" in Georgia, but lamented that Russia continued
to receive the bulk of the international community's condemnation.
He claimed that Russia had had to recognize Abkhazia and South
Ossetian independence to prevent Georgia from using military force
to regain the two areas, and stressed that NATO membership should
not be used as a means of conflict resolution. He urged that the
U.S. not make the same error with Ukraine, and called for the
resumption of negotiations on a post-START agreement and the
Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE). Chairman Berman
expressed concern about Iran's disruptive role in the Middle East
and stressed the need for the U.S. and Russia to cooperate to
prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Kosachev said he had
received a letter from the Iranian Embassy on the status of the
Iran-IAEA talks. The two Chairmen agreed to consider holding a
joint committee meeting after the U.S. elections. End Summary.

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Disappointment with West's Approach to Russia

2. (SBU) During a two-hour cordial meeting in Moscow October 14,
House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Chairman Howard Berman, the
Ambassador and HFAC staff discussed a wide range of issues,
including U.S.-Russia relations, Georgia, Ukraine, NATO enlargement,
a post-START Treaty agreement, the Conventional Forces in Europe
Treaty (CFE), and Iran, with Duma International Relations Committee
Chair Konstantin Kosachev, First Deputy Chair Leonid Slutskiy (LDPR)
and Duma staff. Noting that Chairman Berman was the highest-ranking
USG official to visit Russia since the conflict in Georgia, Kosachev
emphasized the importance of continuing regular Duma-Congress
discussions. He said that current "complications" in the
relationship were not based, as some in the U.S. believed, on Russia
overestimating its oil- and gas-wealth-generated influence, but on
its disappointment with global security constructs since the end of
the Cold War. Russia had offered to work as a partner with the
West, withdrawing Russian bases from Cuba, Vietnam, and eastern
Europe, fulfilling treaty commitments ("until the breakdown of
negotiations over the CFE Treaty"), and not intervening in former
Soviet states ("until Georgia"). In contrast, the U.S. and the West
had enlarged NATO to Russia's borders, invaded Iraq, established
bases in eastern Europe, and taken actions that undermined Russia's
security. Putin's February 2007 Munich speech had been
misinterpreted as the "Russian empire coming back" with many in the
West seeing it as a challenge that required opposition. If people
in the West continued to see Russia this way, Kosachev contended,
there would be more conflicts between us.

3. (SBU) Noting that following 9/11, U.S. foreign policy may have
been more focused on the Middle East, Chairman Berman agreed it was
important to continue the inter-parliamentary dialogue between the
U.S. and Russia. He suggested the global financial crisis and
dispute over Georgia demonstrated the necessity of maintaining more
regular communication between the U.S. and Russia at all levels.
The two countries had fundamental concerns in common, such as
nuclear proliferation, terrorism, energy security, and climate
change, and would be better able to address such problems through
cooperation. Few people in the U.S. believed this was a uni-polar
world in which America could achieve its goals without partners and

No New Cold War

4. (SBU) Chairman Berman pushed back on reports that the U.S. wanted
to diminish Russia's security, saying the U.S. did not want to
return to the Cold War, but noted that some of the rhetoric in
Russia about "spheres of influence" or "spheres of interest," seemed
to reflect Cold War thinking.

Georgia: Mistakes Made By Both Sides

5. (SBU) Kosachev said the conflict in Georgia had been in neither
Russia nor the U.S.'s interest. The military option had been a
"nightmare" and "worst case scenario" for Russia, but Moscow had had
no choice but to intervene. He lamented that it was "unfair" that
people in the West had blamed Russia so strongly for its
intervention. Russia had lost 13 peacekeepers within the first
three days, in addition to the civilian casualties. This fact had
been ignored in U.S. statements, which had caused a lot of
resentment in Russia. "We see reports that both countries made
mistakes, overreacted and were responsible for the conflict. We can
accept this," Kosachev said, but in public statements, it seemed
that "Saakashvili was supported by the rest of the world and Russia
was not."

MOSCOW 00003127 002 OF 003

6. (SBU) Kosachev reiterated arguments that the crisis had begun
with Kosovo's declaration of independence in February and subsequent
recognition by many states. He argued that Georgia had been
preparing to use military force well before August 7, and Russia had
tried to warn the West that a military confrontation was possible,
but the West had not listened. The GOR had tried to avoid military
confrontation until the very end, Kosachev said, by urging
Saakashvili to sign on to a non-use of force agreement, and through
shuttle diplomacy by Russian special envoy Popov. But other
countries had not supported Russia's efforts. Stressing that he did
not think the U.S. had "charged up" Saakashvili to start military
operations, Kosachev said he did believe the U.S. could have done
much more to prevent the attack, and that Saakashvili had
misinterpreted signals from Washington. He dismissed reports that
Russian tanks had already moved into the Roki tunnel by August 7,
asking if this were the case, why hadn't the Georgian military
simply bombed the tunnel instead of Tskhinvali?

Recognition Necessary to Prevent Georgian Use of Force
--------------------------------------------- ---------

7. (SBU) Kosachev said public statements saying Georgia's
territorial integrity was "not an issue for discussion" continued to
support Saakashvili. Now, the only way of restoring Georgia's
territorial integrity was by force. Yet Saakashvili continued to
press it. Russia had had to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetian
independence to prevent Georgia from using military force to regain
the two areas.

NATO Not Mechanism for Conflict Resolution

8. (SBU) Asking whether NATO had planned to take Georgia into the
Alliance with or without Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Kosachev
contended that NATO membership should not be a mechanism for
conflict resolution. Giving Georgia "signals" on NATO membership
had created difficult conditions to resolve the conflicts in
Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This was why Russia had opposed MAP for
Georgia; not because Russia was trying to stop Georgia's path to

LDPR Slutskiy's "We Couldn't Fight with Slingshots"
--------------------------------------------- ------

9. (SBU) Likening the conflict in Georgia to NATO's actions on
Kosovo, LDPR Representative Slutskiy insisted Russia had not used
disproportionate force in Georgia. The GOR had had information that
Georgia was planning a large-scale attack on Abkhazia similar to the
operation in Tskhinvali, so the GOR had needed to respond forcefully
to prevent another major loss of life.

Congressional Reaction Restrained

10. (SBU) In response to Kosachev's complaint about the
Congressional response to Russia's actions in Georgia, Chairman
Berman said the Congress's reaction had been "relatively
restrained." The Congress had approved a package of economic
assistance to help rebuild Georgia's economy and provide
humanitarian aid, but had not approved the provision of military
assistance to Georgia or imposed sanctions on Russia.

Don't Make Same Mistake: Ukraine, NATO, START, CFE
--------------------------------------------- -----

11. (SBU) Kosachev insisted Russia fully recognized Ukraine's
territorial integrity, but stressed that Crimea and the stationing
of the Black Sea Fleet was a very difficult issue for Moscow. He
said Ukrainian President Yushchenko was trying to provoke more
confrontation with Russia by limiting the teaching of Russian
language and culture, and issuing decrees limiting the Black Sea
Fleet's movements. He warned that if the U.S. supported Ukraine's
"provocations," and sped up NATO accession for Kyiv, it could lead
to a conflict.

12. (SBU) The best way to avoid the "mistakes" that were made in
Georgia, Kosachev said, were to:
-- take a pause in NATO enlargement to Georgia and Ukraine, and
understand that if the U.S. and Europe supported a MAP, "you will
lose Russia;"
-- start a serious process to negotiate a post-START Treaty
agreement before its expiration in December, 2009; and
-- Restart discussions on the CFE Treaty. "Whether we liked it or
not," Kosachev said, the situation had changed with the war in
Georgia and if the NATO countries insisted on keeping the linkage to
Georgia and Moldova, the Treaty would die. This was in neither
Russia's nor the West's interests, he claimed.

MOSCOW 00003127 003 OF 003

Middle East, Iran and 123 Agreement

13. (SBU) Chairman Berman expressed concern about Iran's
destabilizing role in the Middle East, but stressed that if Iran
were to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, it would have much
more far-reaching consequences. He emphasized the importance of
maintaining international unity against a nuclear-armed Iran, with
Russia a key member of such a coalition. In response to a complaint
by Slutskiy that Congress had been opposed to the 123 Agreement,
Berman said his Committee had approved it, subject to some concerns
about Russian-Iranian cooperation, but said that it had been a good
decision to withdraw it and let a new Administration re-submit it.

14. (SBU) Kosachev said he had received a letter from the Iranian
Embassy in Moscow regarding the status of talks between Iran and the
IAEA. The letter had not been translated yet, but he agreed to
provide Chairman Berman with a copy.

Inter-Parliamentary Talks

15. (SBU) Both Chairman Berman and Kosachev agreed that dialogue
between the two committees was useful. Kosachev proposed the
committees meet in Moscow after the U.S. elections. "the sooner, the
better." Chairman Berman said he would talk to his colleagues on
the HFAC and get back to Kosachev.

16. (SBU) The delegation has cleared this cable.


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