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Cablegate: Nicaragua and Abkhazia Establish Formal Diplomatic

VZCZCXRO9455
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #0913/01 2611826
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 181826Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4565
INFO RUEHMU/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0126
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0200
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 0020
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL//J2/J3/J5// PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 000913

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, EUR/RUS, EUR/CACEN
DEPT FOR IAA/INL ARCHULETA
DEPT PASS USAID

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2019
TAGS: PREL PBTSRU RU GG NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA AND ABKHAZIA ESTABLISH FORMAL DIPLOMATIC
TIES

REF: A. MANAGUA 789
B. 2008 MANAUGA 1138
C. 2008 MANAGUA 1124

Classified By: Ambassador Robert J. Callahan for reasons 1.4 (B & D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: On September 10, 2009, more than a year after
Nicaragua was the only country (besides Russia) to recognize
the "independence" of the breakaway Georgian republic of
Abkhazia, the two countries have now signed agreements to
establish formal diplomatic relations. The agreement also
came on the same day that news outlets reported that
Venezuela had officially recognized the "independence" of
Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This has been widely seen as
another step by President Ortega to strengthen Nicaragua,s
bilateral relationship with Russia. END SUMMARY

-----------------------------------------
FORMAL DIPLOMATIC AGREEMENT WITH ABKHAZIA
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On September 10, 2009, Nicaragua signed an agreement
with the breakaway Georgian republic of Abkhazia to establish
formal diplomatic ties. The signing ceremony took place
within days of the first anniversary of Nicaragua,s
recognition of Abkhazia,s "independence" (see reftel B, C).
The official Sandinista party news website "El 19" lauded the
agreement that was signed by Nicaraguan Foreign Minister
Samuel Santos and Abkhazian "Deputy Foreign Minister" Maxim
Kvindzhiya. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega met
separately with Kvindzhiya and reiterated his support of the
"independence" of Abkhazia. Ortega also invited Abkhazian
"President" Sergei Bagapsh to visit Nicaragua. Kvindzhiya
delivered a letter from "President" Bagapsh to Ortega
expressing gratitude to Nicaragua for its support. It was no
surprise that Russia,s ambassador to Nicaragua, Igor
Kondrashov, praised the signing by exclaiming "these
documents have special significance...and they will help
flesh out the bilateral relationship with tangible content."

3. (SBU) The formal diplomatic agreement signed by Santos and
Kvindzhiya contained language not only about future
diplomatic cooperation, but also about development and mutual
collaboration on political, scientific, ecological,
humanitarian and cultural issues. Both countries agreed to
cooperate in establishing direct diplomatic relations between
their respective governments, as well as developing ties
between social organizations at a local level. (NOTE: The
full text of the agreement has not yet been made public. END
NOTE)

-------
COMMENT
-------

4. (C) As we noted in reftels B & C, Nicaragua,s recognition
of Georgia,s two breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South
Ossetia in September 2008 had everything to do with
strengthening Ortega,s relationship with Russia. For more
than a year, Nicaragua was the only country besides Russia to
recognize the breakaway republics. Now, the signing of a
formal diplomatic agreement with Abkhazia is another "down
payment" by Ortega to Russia. We note that Ortega, who
regularly gives speeches that fondly recall the Cold War Era
and Moscow,s support of the Nicaraguan Revolution, is again
actively courting the Kremlin. Ortega seems to believe that
this political step - which he can only view as "low-cost" -
will generate increased Russian military and economic
assistance that will offset the U.S. and European Union aid
that was withdrawn after Nicaragua,s fraudulent local
elections in November 2008. We believe that Ortega wants to
recreate the bipolar conflict and clientelism that once
existed between Russia and the West in Central America.

5. (C) To a small extent Ortega,s hopes for Russian
reciprocity have materialized. As reported in reftel A,
Russia "donated" 130 city buses to ease traffic congestion in
Managua, as well as a military helicopter to transport
President Ortega. These Russian "donations" were heralded by
Ortega as "without imposing political or economic
conditionality" as opposed to "Yankee (aid) interference" in
Nicaragua,s internal affairs. However, a closer look shows
that these Russian gifts "with no strings attached" were not
donations, but in the case of the buses at least, vehicles to
enrich Ortega and his party while bypassing any normal
budgeting process through the National Assembly.
CALLAHAN

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