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Cablegate: U.S.-Russia Environment Working Group: Environment Ministry

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PP RUEHAST RUEHDBU RUEHDH RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHSK
RUEHSL RUEHTRO RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #0261/01 0351343
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 041343Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6154
INFO RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG PRIORITY 5602
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK PRIORITY 3472
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG PRIORITY 3815
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAEPA/HQ EPA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUCPDC/NOAA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHFJBRQ/NSF POLAR WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DTRA CT WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DTRA ALEX WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEANAT/NASA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MOSCOW 000261

STATE FOR EUR/RUS, OES/PCI, EUR/PGI
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USAID/E&E
INTERIOR FOR KIM MAGRAW
INTERIOR PLEASE PASS TO NPS, FWS, AND USGS
FWS FOR STEVE KOHL, JANET HOHN, GEOFF HASKETT
NPS FOR SUE MASICA AND RUDY D'ALESSANDRO
NOAA FOR RENEE TATUSKO AND JENNIFER DUPONT
OSTP FOR JOAN ROLF
USDA FOR FAS/OCRA NINA HORGAN

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
AIDAC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV PREL ECON TSPL SOCI EFIS KGLB RS
SUBJECT: U.S.-RUSSIA ENVIRONMENT WORKING GROUP: ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY
POSITIVE, BUT SEEKS MORE DETAILS ON U.S. DRAFT AGENDA

REF: A. 09 MOSCOW 3013 (NOTAL)
B. 09 MOSCOW 2538 (NOTAL)

MOSCOW 00000261 001.2 OF 004


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED -- PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On January 27, officials of the Russian Ministry
of Natural Resources and Ecology (MNRE) gave their initial reaction
to the U.S.-proposed agenda for the Environment Working Group of the
Bilateral Presidential Commission. They suggested that OES DAS
Daniel Reifsnyder head a USG delegation to Moscow in March for the
first Working Group meeting. They warmly accepted a proposal for
cooperation on management of mercury and other toxic chemicals --
and were particularly eager to learn from the U.S. Superfund
experience -- and they promised a more detailed proposal soon. They
cautioned that accelerating cooperation on a Beringia shared
cross-border protected area should wait until Russia creates a
federal park in Chukotka, a process that has dragged on longer than
expected. They were open to discussing the other proposals on the
USG list, but asked for further clarification on most of them. They
did not embrace the idea of interagency and multidisciplinary
cooperation on issues like climate change and illegal logging, but
preferred to focus on the particular aspects of these issues that
fall under their own ministry's jurisdiction. END SUMMARY.

-------------------------------------------
Working Group Meeting Time and Participants
-------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On January 27, Igor Zotov, Deputy International Relations
Director, and Andrey Peshkov, Head of the Office of Cooperation in
the area of Nuclear Industry Safety and Waste, of the International
Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
(MNRE) gave us their initial reaction to the USG's proposed agenda
for cooperation under the Environment Working Group (EWG) of the
Bilateral Presidential Commission. Zotov said that Deputy Minister
Igor Maydanov has designated him as MNRE's chief point of contact on
the Environment Working Group. The Russian side will determine its
participants once the EWG agenda is agreed. Responding to Under
Secretary for Global Affairs Maria Otero's letter to Minister
Maydanov, they tentatively agreed to a mid-March visit by OES DAS
Daniel Reifsnyder. They hoped that Under Secretary Otero could
visit Moscow in April for an initial meeting of the Working Group
co-chairs. They noted that the Russian government schedule in May
would be too busy for such a meeting.

------------------
Arctic Cooperation
------------------

3. (SBU) Regarding the proposed Beringia cross-border joint
protected area, Zotov and Peshkov said that Russia is still
conducting environmental feasibility studies on establishment of a
federal park on the Russian side of the Bering Strait. (NOTE: The
MNRE department responsible for national parks -- not represented at
this meeting -- had predicted last September that these studies
would be finished by December 2009 - ref. B. END NOTE.) They said
the Beringia proposal is very attractive and should not be rushed.
Our interlocutors indicated that we need to wait until these studies
are finished before agreeing on concrete steps to increase future

MOSCOW 00000261 002.2 OF 004


cooperation. In view of FM Lavrov and Secretary Clinton's interest
in the topic, they agreed to check on when the feasibility study is
expected to be completed and will aim to tell us more in the coming
days. In response to our question, they agreed to verify that April
would be a propitious time for an anticipated visit of National Park
Service officials to discuss the protected area. (NOTE: We
described the difference in urgency between the MFA and MNRE on
January 28 to MFA North America Department Bilateral Affairs Office
Counselor Azar Dzhioyev, who seemed frustrated that MNRE had not
provided the MFA with any reaction to the U.S. proposal for the EWG.
He took on board the suggestion that it would be useful for MFA to
clarify the timing for Russian government designation. END NOTE.)

4. (SBU) On the proposal for cooperation on salmon river
conservation, MNRE proposed redefining this area as "conservation of
rare and endangered salmonids [as defined under Russian
endangered-species legislation] and their spawning grounds," as
these are the only types of salmon and salmon habitat over which
MNRE has jurisdiction. Commercial fish and fisheries fall under the
Federal Fisheries Agency, a separate federal agency. They requested
more detail on what specifically the USG has in mind in this area.
(COMMENT: Limiting this cooperation to only endangered salmonids may
mostly limit it to joint academic research. END COMMENT.)

5. (SBU) The Russians are eager to cooperate in the management and
cleanup of contaminated sites, but they wish to define the issue
more precisely. The United States and Russia have cooperated in
this area under the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission and the Arctic
Council's Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP). MNRE is very
interested in U.S. Superfund experience and hopes our countries can
realize projects that we began discussing four years ago. They
proposed that this cooperation complement existing cooperation
within ACAP, where a financing mechanism and history of U.S.-Russian
cooperation in this area already exist. Peshkov stressed that
Russia sees the United States as its strategic partner in these
areas and would like to greatly increase joint activities and
rebuild a "unified front" in ACAP vis-a-vis other member states
that, according to Peshkov, do not share our joint vision. He
promised to give us concrete proposals for areas of cooperation and
potential joint funding for joint projects in the coming days. In
an aside, Peshkov asked that the United States support renewing
Russia's -- and specifically his -- chairmanship of ACAP for the
next two years, noting that the first ACAP Chair, an EPA
representative, served two terms.

----------------------------------------
Chemicals Management and Illegal Logging
----------------------------------------

6. (SBU) The Russians are eager to cooperate on mercury management
and promised to give us a more detailed proposal in the coming days,
including possible joint financing for joint projects. Peshkov
stressed that Russia is interested in an equal partnership and
intends to allocate funds comparable to the U.S. contribution.

7. (SBU) On issues related to the Montreal Protocol and
chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) phaseout, the Russians prefer to define
this area in terms of "introducing best available ozone-friendly
technologies" and are interested in further discussion. They also

MOSCOW 00000261 003.2 OF 004


asked if the Working Group would discuss the Stockholm Convention on
Persistent Organic Pollutants. Peshkov requested to add an area for
discussion: a strategic approach to chemical management that would
combine commitments under the Basel Convention on the Control of
Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, the
Stockholm Convention, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that
Deplete the Ozone Layer, and the Global Mercury Partnership.

8. (SBU) On issues of illegal logging and forest fires, Zotov and
Peshkov emphasized that MNRE only has jurisdiction over forests in
national parks, federal nature preserves, and other federally
protected lands and the federally designated buffer zones
surrounding them, which cover a total of around 10 percent of
Russia's land. Forested lands that are open to commercial logging
fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Forestry Agency, part of
the Ministry of Agriculture. Zotov and Peshkov insisted that
cooperation on illegal logging in commercially logged forests must
take place under the Agriculture Working Group in direct cooperation
with the Agriculture Ministry. Nonetheless, they pointed out that
working to combat illegal logging on federally protected lands and
buffer zones could be a viable area for cooperation in the EWG,
since illegal logging is a significant problem there.

------------------------------------
Climate Change and Other Cooperation
------------------------------------

9. (SBU) Since MNRE's takeover of the state hydrometeorological
service Roshydromet in the 2008 government shakeup that followed
President Medvedev's election, MNRE now has jurisdiction over a wide
spectrum of issues in the area of climate change, including state
policy on climate change, climate monitoring and research, as well
as regulating emissions. However, Peshkov and Zotov said that
cooperation on alternative energy and energy efficiency must take
place within the working groups on science and technology or energy.
Peshkov did not take on board the suggestion to work jointly with
these groups.

10. (SBU) In the area of "environmental institutional development,"
the Russians asked that the USG clearly define these terms. They
did not understand what was meant by this category and could not
respond to it. Peshkov interjected sharply that if this term was
the U.S. way of criticizing how Russia has organized its
environmental agencies, that subject is not up for discussion.
(NOTE: Peshkov himself suggested cooperation in this area in July
2009 at an environmental roundtable following the presidential
summit, when he suggested bilateral cooperation on "harmonizing
environmental legislation and standards." END NOTE.) We reassured
them that we understood this to mean broader issues such as civil
society engagement in environmental preservation and environmental
education programs such as GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations
to Benefit the Environment), but agreed to check.

11. (SBU) On the issue of invasive species, Peshkov and Zotov said
they were aware of U.S. struggles with invasive Asian carp in the
Great Lakes; however, they averred that Russia does not have a
problem with invasive species. They asked that the U.S. side
further clarify the topics of wildlife and marine conservation.
Peshkov suggested that this title be changed to "biodiversity."

MOSCOW 00000261 004.2 OF 004


They also asked that "wetlands and watersheds" be further clarified,
and they asked for further specifics on proposed cooperation in the
area of transboundary air pollution, though they are in principle
open to discussion on these topics.

12. (SBU) COMMENT: High-level U.S. contacts with Russian
environmental policymakers have been rare in recent years as Russia
has weakened the authority of government agencies that craft
environmental policy and that enforce environmental regulations.
NGOs tell us frankly that there is hardly anyone in the Russian
government left with whom to work. MNRE, overwhelmingly focused on
natural resource extraction, is notorious among Russian government
agencies for its lack of coordination, with one MFA official calling
it a "black hole." For all these reasons, MNRE's cautious response
was surprisingly positive. Of our MNRE contacts, Peshkov has shown
by far the most interest in the Working Group. Zotov, who is
unknown in environmental circles, deferred throughout the meeting to
Peshkov, who came to MNRE from the Federal Service for
Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision (Rostekhnadzor)
and is an expert in toxic waste and chemicals management. These
areas had the most detailed discussion and were the only areas in
which MNRE showed unreserved enthusiasm and willingness to counter
with a detailed proposal for cooperation. MNRE so far has
consistently refused to consider joint work with other Russian
agencies. Although this view is discouraging and inefficient, MNRE
is unlikely to change it unless other ministries approach it with
proposals for joint work. It is not customary for Russian
ministries to coordinate with each other. But the Ministry of
Agriculture, which has the lead on illegal logging, has already
shown a willingness to do exactly that. At the USG's urging, that
ministry will likely allow representatives from the Ministry of
Health and Social Development to work on food safety, an approved
topic for the Agriculture Working Group.

BEYRLE

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