Cablegate: Duma Defense Committee First Deputy Chair Babich - Meeting

DE RUEHMO #3777 3661240
P 311240Z DEC 08



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: In a December 15 meeting with Representatives
Ellen Tauscher, Loretta Sanchez, Rick Larsen, and Doug Lamborn, Duma
Defense Committee, First Deputy Chair Mikhail Babich said that
Russia had high expectations for the incoming Obama Administration.
He welcomed the proposal for regular meetings between the House
Armed Services Committee and the Duma Defense Committee starting
next year, and asked to learn more about how the Congress oversaw
the Department of Defense and other defense-related agencies. He
noted that the reported delay in deployment of a missile defense
system to Poland and the Czech Republic was an opportunity to engage
in dialogue, although he underlined that Russia perceived these
sites as a NATO threat on Russia's borders. Babich offered
continued Russian assistance in countering Iran's nuclear program
and in non-proliferation. End summary.

Welcoming the New Administration

2. (SBU) In a December 15 meeting, Duma Defense Committee First
Deputy Chair Mikhail Babich told Representative Ellen Tauscher
(D-CA), Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Representative Rick
Larsen (D-WA), and Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) that Russia
had high expectations for the incoming administration, "we hope we
can solve all of the problems, untie all the knots, and find a way
out of the situation we are in." The brief session focused on
Representative Tauscher's proposed bilateral inter-parliamentary
committee, opportunities for dialogue on missile defense,
non-proliferation, and Iran.

Legislative Dialogue

3. (SBU) Babich warmly welcomed Representative Tauscher's proposal
for the formation of a bilateral inter-parliamentary committee
between the House Armed Services Committee and the Duma Defense
Committee. Both he and Representative Tauscher agreed that planning
should start for a series of meetings early next year.
Representative Tauscher outlined a future Strategic Arms Reduction
Treaty (START), non-proliferation, Iran, and weapons of mass
destruction as topics the two committees could share ideas and
experiences as legislators.

4. (SBU) The Duma Committee Deputy expressed an interest to learn
from the Congress on how it implemented oversight of the Department
of Defense and other defense-related agencies. As Russia confronts
two major reform initiatives -- reform of the military and of
military industries -- Babich asked to share experiences on these
topics. In particular, he would be interested to learn how
Congressional committees organized the work of expert communities in
developing legislation.

Missile Defense

5. (SBU) Due to testing concerns, Representative Tauscher reported
that there would be a delay in deployment of a missile defense (MD)
system to Poland and the Czech Republic. She told him, however,
that the U.S. reserved the right to deploy defenses appropriate to
respond to the threat posed by Iran and "other current and emergent
threats." Calling the approach of Representative Tauscher "smart"
and "a very reasonable thing to do," Babich welcomed the time this
delay allows for dialogue. He cautioned that the idea for a third
MD site was "not the best solution." He countered that the
agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic constituted a threat,
as they represented the establishment of NATO infrastructure on
Russia's border. He also criticized the U.S. approach of pursuing
activities, when Russia proposed initiatives.

Proliferation and Iran

6. (SBU) While recognizing U.S. concerns with Iran's nuclear
program, Babich said that Russia is no less concerned, especially
since they are "so close to us." He stated that Russia understood
"third tier" countries very well, and offered to work together to
prevent proliferation. "The desire of both sides to stop activities
and sit and talk is a good sign," he said.

7. (U) The CODEL did not clear this cable.


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