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Cablegate: Mission Usnato

DE RUEHNO #0581/01 3441019
P 101019Z DEC 09


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 USNATO 000581


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/10/2019 TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS NATO RS


Classified By: Ambassador Ivo Daalder for reasons 1.4 (b/d).

1. (C) Summary: Russia harshly criticized NATO and individual Allies during a NATO-Russia Council meeting on the Russian military exercises Zapad and Ladoga, while managing to avoid giving any details on the exercises themselves. The Russian Ambassador to NATO did not discuss the provocative scenario for the exercises and criticized NATO for holding its own exercises in the former Soviet space. He complained that the response to the Russian exercises by some Allies smacked of Cold War rhetoric. Allies asked that Russia use "common sense" when planning its exercises and took exception to the Russian Ambassadors tone, prompting an even harsher Russian rebuke. The NATO Secretary General asked the Russian Ambassador to convey to Moscow Allied concern over the exercises, the size and nature of which were contrary to the spirit of NATO-Russia cooperation. End summary.

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Russias "Brief" ----------------

2. (C) Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitri Rogozin briefed the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) on November 25 (at Allied request) on the recent Russian-Belarussian military exercises Zapad and Ladoga (reftel). He provided no substantive information on the exercises, criticizing instead those Allies that had raised concerns about Russian intentions. Without explaining the scenario for the exercises, Rogozin claimed they were defensive in nature and did not include the simulated use of nuclear weapons. He argued that Russia had been transparent by inviting international observers although it was not legally required to do so. NATO countries were involved in many more exercises than Russia, he said, including exercises held in the "former Soviet space" that used an enemy clearly modeled on Russia. He claimed that in 2010, Ukraine would hold eight exercises involving more than 7,000 troops each, and that exercises would continue in Georgia, which Rogozin called "a favorite baby of some NATO countries."

3. (C) Rogozin made much of a recent statement by the Polish Foreign Minister that while Poland did not fear Russia, NATO still had plans to defend itself against a Russian threat. Rogozin asked for a briefing on this plan, and commented that reaction to the Russian exercises had the "smell of the Cold War."

Allies React ------------

4. (C) The Polish PermRep said it was troubling that Russia refused to discuss Zapad and Ladoga in an open manner, even after NRC members had asked it to do so. He noted that NATO used artificial scenarios in its exercises, whereas Russia seemed set on making its exercises politically provocative. Lithuania said that it did not feel any kind of threat from Russia, but was disappointed that Russia chose to conduct its largest post-Soviet exercise along the Lithuanian border. Estonia asked that Russia simply use "common sense" when planning its exercises.

Rogozin Over-Reacts -------------------

5. (C) Rogozin responded to the Allies by complaining that the entire discussion was "insanity" and blamed the media in Allied countries for incendiary reports on the Russian exercises. If NATO wanted to discuss the demilitarization of Russias western frontiers, this would require the same of the Baltic countries. However, if a country had armed forces, they needed to be on "combat alert," thus the need for the Russian exercises. Rogozin directed questions to specific Allies, such as asking Lithuania what it had done in a "positive, constructive way" to further bilateral ties with Russia. He then launched into a monologue on the need to create conditions that would foster partnership and cooperation and abandon "far fetched ideas and rhetoric."

6. (C) Rogozins harsh tone prompted more Allied responses. Romania suggested that Rogozin did not understand the Polish
FMs comments and other Allied concerns, while Lithuania implored Rogozin to "hear what we say and take it into account."

7. (C) NATO Secretary General Rasmussen concluded by asking that Russia understand why NRC members wanted to raise the recent exercises in this forum. The SecGen requested that Rogozin convey to Moscow that the scale and scenario of the exercises did not correspond to the spirit of the NRC, and he hoped that similar exercises would not be held in 2010. Rogozin came back a final time to assert that if he had thought the exercises would have had a "detrimental impact" on NATO-Russia relations, he would have avoided "briefing" the NRC.

Comment -------

8. (C) The Alliance has had several discussions on the Zapad and Ladoga exercises, stemming from some Allies deep concern over Russian intentions and methodology. Rogozins behavior and unwillingness to listen to Allied concerns did little to assuage and much to further frustrate Allies just as improving NATO-Russia relations was in the spotlight. The latest episode feeds the belief of several Allies that the real signal of Russias intention to engage seriously with NATO would be to send a more politically astute Ambassador.


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