Cablegate: Embassy London

DE RUEHLO #2499/01 3091547
O 051547Z NOV 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 LONDON 002499



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/22/2019

1. (C/NF) Summary. The Foreign Office's Russia Directorate briefed November 4 that the visit by Foreign Secretary David Miliband to Russia November 1-3 aimed to move forward a bilateral political relationship that has been beset by irritants and disagreements for three years. Discussions focused on multilateral issues over which there was broad agreement: Afghanistan, disarmament, the Middle East, and Iran, and issues where there was still bilateral disagreement: extradition, European security/NATO, human rights, Georgia, and climate change. Joint statements and discussions recommitted the two countries to common positions in support of peace, stability, and prosperity in Afghanistan, support for the electoral process, and a condemnation of the Taliban; a lasting two-state peace settlement of the Middle East conflict; and recognition of the vital global security role of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov expressed predictable concern over Europe's evolving security architecture and NATO enlargement while appreciating NATO SecGen Rasmussen's "transparency" on the NATO Strategic Concept Review. Miliband and Lavrov "agreed to disagree" on the interpretations of the reasoning behind Russian military interventions into Georgia in August 2008. Miliband expressed hope that Russia would show more visible evidence of progress on human rights and rule of law, and heard only a "standard Russian reply" to requests for movement on the UK's extradition request of Andrei Lugovoi (wanted in connection with the murder of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006). Miliband pushed Lavrov for an increased commitment of Russian emission reductions in advance of Copenhagen, and heard optimistic predictions of three percent economic growth in Russia in 2010 by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov. Shuvalov expressed willingness to maintain momentum on Russia's WTO accession negotiations but complained he had "gotten no response" when he raised the issue in Washington this autumn. In a separate November 3 readout with the DCM, the newly-installed FCO Political Director Geoffrey Adams said that HMG was very satisfied with the visit. Reading from a UK Embassy Moscow report, he noted Lavrov had "gone out of his way" to be hospitable, hosting a small informal dinner with Miliband the evening before the official schedule began. The media response to the visit was low-key and generally positive, he added. End summary.

Visit's Goals and Objectives ----------------------------

2. (C/NF) Michael Davenport, Director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Russia, South Caucasus, and Central Asia Directorate briefed members of London's diplomatic corps November 4 on Foreign Secretary David Miliband's November 1-3 trip to Russia. The objective of Miliband's visit was to "take forward" the top-level bilateral political dialogue which Prime Minister Brown started with President Medvedev at the G8 last year, and which were furthered by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband, and the Duke of York on various visits to Russia. Miliband and Russian Foreign Secretary Lavrov agreed on three joint statements on Afghanistan, non-proliferation, and the Middle East Peace Process. The visit also demonstrated that Russia and the UK were able to cooperate on multilateral and bilateral priorities while engaging on what Davenport termed "hard-headed" issues such as the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi. Texts of the joint statements can be found at /en/working-with-russia/visits/david-miliband .

Iran ----

3. (C/NF) FS Miliband noted the need for the international community to begin considering next steps to increase pressure on Iran with sanctions should there be no progress on Iran's response to concerns over its nuclear ambitions. Lavrov expressed concern that unilateral sanctions often had LONDON 00002499 002 OF 004 a seriously negative impact on Russian companies, to which Miliband responded that this was more reason to consider coordinated, multilateral sanctions if required. Davenport said that Miliband came away from the discussion with the impression that Russia was pressing Iran to be responsive to the international community but that Lavrov believed that it was premature to discuss sanctions in detail.

Afghanistan -----------

4. (C/NF) Davenport indicated that Lavrov supported NATO's role in Afghanistan and that Russia wanted NATO to stay engaged there. The Russians were optimistic over NATO's role in the process of reintegration but more skeptical on the potential for reconciliation there. Lavrov agreed on the importance of President Karzai as a genuinely national leader. A joint statement issued after the discussions recommitted the UK and Russia to the security, stability, and prosperity of Afghanistan; condemned Taliban efforts to destabilize the electoral process; underscored interest in prompt completion of the electoral process; and reaffirmed support for Afghanistan in confronting the threat posed by the illicit narcotics trade.

Disarmament and Missile Defense -------------------------------

5. (C/NF) FM Lavrov was optimistic that the successor treaty to START would be ready by December 5 and indicated to Miliband that he was looking forward to working with the U.S. on next steps. Lavrov expressed Russia's desire to see the disarmament discussion widened to include conventional weapons and to include countries beyond the P-5, particularly those vulnerable to becoming more "weaponized." On missile defense, Lavrov told Miliband he welcomed the U.S. decision and that he looked forward to working with us on next steps.

European Security / NATO ------------------------

6. (C/NF) Discussions on European security architecture, Davenport said, were in the context of the NATO-Russia dialogue on Afghanistan. Lavrov said he saw the debate (on the future of European security) as a litmus test of Western willingness to meet European security responsibilities. He welcomed NATO SecGen Rasmussen's willingness to be frank and transparent with Russia over NATO's Strategic Concept Review and looked forward to Rasmussen's upcoming trip to Russia to further engage on the issue of security. Lavrov raised with Miliband the view that Russia hoped to see the future of European security arrangements enshrined in a treaty with Russia, "either through the OSCE or the Corfu process." Miliband demurred, indicating that the discussions should be open and frank while cautioning that a treaty would not be the "end-all-be-all" solution; things must move forward incrementally, he said. On NATO enlargement specifically, Lavrov replayed traditional Russian arguments about the West "not keeping its word" in the 1990s not to expand the alliance and pointed to this grievance in support of a new treaty to govern Europe's new security architecture Lavrov promised that Russia would come to the next NATO-Russia Council meeting with more concrete proposals on Russian views for Europe's new security architecture, but Davenport expressed the view that HMG had "heard this before." President Medvedev and Prime Minister Brown were expected to meet in Berlin next week where the issue would likely be discussed further.

MEPP ----

7. (SBU) The Middle East Peace Process was the subject of a joint statement by Lavrov and Miliband -- recommitting Russia and the UK to a "comprehensive, just, and lasting peace settlement" of the conflict; and Davenport said there was agreement that the Palestinians needed a "credible route to a credible state." LONDON 00002499 003 OF 004

Georgia -------

8. (C/NF) Miliband and Lavrov agreed to disagree on different interpretations of what occurred in Georgia in August 2008. Miliband reasserted the view that sovereign states had the right to determine their security arrangements and alliances, and Davenport assessed that Russia was prepared to "play its part" in Geneva. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Karasin was expected in London on December 19, during which these discussions would continue.

Human Rights / Rule of Law --------------------------

9. (C/NF) Miliband welcomed President Medvedev's commitments on human rights and the rule of law, but expressed to Lavrov that HMG hoped to see more evidence of these commitments being put into practice. Miliband noted that the issues impact the investment climate and hoped more could be done with a public face. Davenport noted that the EU-Russia dialogue on human rights was underway this week and the UK-Russia bilateral human rights dialogue would also continue, with an invitation extended to Russia to participate in dialogue talks in London in early 2010. Davenport, in response to a question, confirmed that HMG had no current plans to re-open the British Council office in St. Petersburg, but that the Russian MFA was supportive of the Council's work in country.

Extradition in Litvinenko Case ------------------------------

10. (C/NF) Turning to the key bilateral irritant, Miliband raised the extradition case of Andrei Lugovoi, wanted in connection with the 2006 murder in London of Alexander Litvinenko. Miliband said that it was unacceptable that no satisfactory cooperation from Russia on the UK's concerns and questions had been forthcoming. Lavrov, Davenport said, offered the "standard Russian reply."

Copenhagen - Climate Change ---------------------------

11. (C/NF) Miliband urged Lavrov to look again at Russia's negotiating position in advance of Copenhagen, noting that planned Russian reductions of 10-15 percent in carbon emissions by 2020 from a 1990 base year were insufficient, given the already huge reductions that occurred because of Russia,s economic decline in the 1990s. The Foreign Secretary urged Lavrov and First Deputy Prime Minister Shuvalov that increasing Russia's reduction pledge would send the right message to other countries.

Economics / WTO ---------------

12. (C/NF) Shuvalov was upbeat about Russia's economy, Davenport reported, and said that he predicted three percent growth in 2010. Shuvalov also indicated that Russia wanted to press ahead on with Russia's WTO accession negotiations, but had "gotten no response from Washington" when he was there this autumn.

Visit Atmospherics ------------------

13. (C/NF) In a separate November 3 meeting with the DCM, the new FCO Political Director, Geoffrey Adams, shared a readout from the UK Ambassador in Moscow, who noted that Lavrov had "gone out of his way to be hospitable" and had hosted an informal dinner on November 1 where the discussion was wide-ranging and relaxed. Davenport echoed that the atmospherics of the visit were "pretty good," despite criticism in the UK media of the Foreign Secretary having LONDON 00002499 004 OF 004 been "snubbed" on Litvinenko. Formal discussions were "business-like and productive" with promises of follow-up, though Adams expressed some disappointment that a planned meeting with Russian President Medvedev and Miliband had not materialized. Adams, when questioned by DCM said there was no clear solution in sight regarding the Litvinenko case. The FCO assesses that the visit was a step forward in the UK's bilateral dialogue with Russia, and while there remained important areas of disagreement, the channels would stay open and the discussion of these issues would continue. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX Susman , ...

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