Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 1295 / 251,287


Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin


Browse by tag


Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious


If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:
  • The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
  • The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
  • The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.

Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #08MOSCOW2701.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW2701 2008-09-09 15:03 2010-12-01 21:09 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Moscow
DE RUEHMO #2701/01 2531507
P 091507Z SEP 08
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 MOSCOW 002701 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/08/2018 

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Alice G. Wells for reasons 
1.4(b) and (d) 

1. (S/NF) Summary: While achieving some key concessions 
from Russia on next steps in the Georgia conflict, the 
Sarkozy-Medvedev agreement from September 8 still leaves open 
questions about the nature and size of Russian troops, role 
of EU observers, and the format of October security talks. 
After contentious talks lasting four hours, the two sides 
reached agreement on the timing of the withdrawal of Russian 
forces from Georgia, international observer mechanisms, and 
the convening of an international conference on security and 
refugees for October 15 in Geneva. FM Lavrov called for 
South Ossetia and Abkhazia to participate in the security 
conference, and announced Russian troops would remain in 
those areas. Medvedev made clear that Russia would not 
reverse its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 
Medvedev and especially Putin remain defiant toward the U.S., 
with Deputy Chief of General Staff General Nogovitsyn 
alleging U.S. "complicity" in the armed conflict. Pundits 
claim the September 8 Sarkozy visit a victory for Russia, 
with the Sarkozy follow-on agreement likely to produce the 
Cyprus scenario the Russians say they are comfortable with. 
End Summary 

Tense negotiations 

2. (U) In their meeting September 8, Presidents Sarkozy and 
Medvedev discussed their August 12 six-point ceasefire 
agreement and agreed upon additional points in three areas. 

-- Withdrawal of troops. Within seven days, Russia will 
withdraw its troops from the observation posts between Poti 
and Senaki, while Russia will within 10 days following the 
deployment of "international mechanisms" withdraw its 
peacekeepers from the zones adjacent to South Ossetia and 
Abkhazia to pre-war positions. The document also calls for 
the complete return of Georgian armed forces to their bases 
by October 1, 2008. 

-- International observation mechanisms. Both the existing 
UN and OSCE observer missions will remain, while "at least 
200" EU monitors will be deployed by October 1, 2008 in the 
zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. 

-- International discussions. An international conference on 
Caucasus security will begin on October 15, 2008 in Geneva, 
devoted principally to security, refugees and internally 
displaced persons (IDPs). The GOR considers that this 
conference fulfills the requirements of point six of the 
Medvedev-Sarkozy plan of August 12, 2008, which calls for 
international discussions on security and stability 

3. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX  told DCM that the  atmosphere
during the negotiations was quite charged and at  times became
openly hostile. Sarkozy at one point grabbed FM Lavrov by
the lapels and called him a liar in very strong  terms, reacting
to Lavrov's denial that Russia had failed to comply with its
previous withdrawal commitments.XXXXXXXXXX said that
Sarkozy had arrived with a "take it or leave it attitude, very
American in style and very confrontational,"  and the Russians
Had responded icily. Levitte played a central role in negotiating
the text with Prikhodko, who seemed to be under a lot of pressure
and in fairly bad  spirits. 

4. (S/NF) In the end, the French believe they got the best 
agreement that could be hoped for. XXXXXXXXXXXX said they 
attribute their success primarily to the Russians being ready 
to reach such a deal -- and in fact anxious to have it as a 
way of withdrawing their forces. EU unity and harmony 
between the U.S. and the EU also played a role;
XXXXXXXXXXXX  observed that the Russians were
clearly conscious that they  were facing a united front. 
Sarkozy reportedly warned  Medvedev that Russia's standing
as a "serious power" had been  severely harmed and failure
to meet the obligations Russia is  assuming under this agreement
could do a great deal of  further damage. 

5. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX added that the Russians
treated Barroso  harshly and condescendingly, and tried to exclude
 him from  many of the sessions. The French attributed this to the 
Russian view that Barroso is basically a glorified  international
civil servant "not worthy to be in the Czar's  XXXXXXXXXXXX
confirmed that Putin was nowhere to be seen during the visit. 

MOSCOW 00002701 002 OF 004 

6. (SBU) In their joint press conference after the meeting, 
Medvedev contrasted the EU and U.S. roles, calling the EU 
"our natural partner, our key partner," and welcoming the EU 
approach as "balanced," while contrasting it to "exotic or 
extremist" positions calling for sanctions. He again accused 
the U.S. of blessing Georgia's desire to use force in the 
conflict, whether by "direct order or silent approval," and 
used this purported U.S. behavior as a reason to call for a 
new world order. Medvedev made clear that Russia would not 
reverse its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 

7. (SBU) Sarkozy in turn renewed the EU's rejection of 
Russia's recognition of South Ossetian and Abkhazian 
independence, and at times seemed amused when he thanked 
Medvedev for speaking as the "representative of the European 
position" on Georgia, and again later when he questioned 
Russia's right to "determine Georgia's borders." 

Ambiguities remain 

8. (C) By fixing a timeline for withdrawal, the agreement 
succeeds in rendering obsolete Sarkozy's August 14 
clarifications to the August 12 points, to which the GOR 
maintained it had never agreed. However, the September 8 
agreement leaves open several points that are unclear or 
contentious. The number and nature of Russian troops 
remaining in South Ossetia and Abkhazia is not specified. 
Late September 9, Medvedev declared that Russia would keep 
7,600 troops in the two zones; 3,800 in each area. The 
Sarkozy agreement appears to accept Russian conditionality 
that EU observers be limited to the areas "adjacent" to the 
conflict zones. The nature of the international discussions 
leaves the precise format of the talks open, not clarifying 
if Russia will participate as a mediator or as one of the 
conflict parties, whether and in what capacity Abkhazia and 
South Ossetia will participate, and what the precise goals of 
the talks are. Finally, while Sarkozy gave Medvedev a 
non-use of force statement signed by Saakashvili, the 
document has no legally binding effect, and it is unclear 
whether there will be an effort to make it legally binding. 

9. (C) Following Sarkozy's departure, FM Lavrov used a press 
conference on September 9 to clarify that Russian troops (not 
peacekeepers) would remain in South Ossetia "for a long 
time," ostensibly to protect the residents there from 
Georgian aggression. On the EU observers, he said their role 
would be to guarantee that Georgia would not use force 
against South Ossetia and Abkhazia. On the international 
discussions, he demanded that South Ossetia and Abkhazia be 
given a seat at the table as full-fledged participants. 

10. (U) Ambassadors and Defense Attaches were invited to a 
briefing by Ministry of Defense spokesman General Anatoliy 
Nogovitsyn September 9. Despite a standing-room only 
attendance Nogovitsyn disappointed the diplomatic corps by 
simply rehashing Russian arguments used to justify Russia's 
actions in Georgia, highlighting the history of the 
agreements authorizing Russian peacekeeping forces and the 
chronology of events from August 6-10. He noted that in 
response to a Georgian request, the U.S. had quickly helped 
withdraw Georgian troops from Iraq and transported them to 
Georgia. By helping Georgia, the U.S. had "set a precedent 
of complicity" in the armed conflict, he claimed. Nogovitsyn 
also showed alleged Georgian plans of attack for Abkhazia 
which Russian forces had "recovered," arguing that they 
showed that Georgia had planned to occupy all of Abkhazia, 
target hospitals and civilian infrastructure, prevent 
refugees from fleeing, etc. He claimed they showed an 
"explicit manifestation of genocide." He said that as of 
September 9, Russia had 2452 peacekeepers in the conflict 
zone. He summarized the plan agreed by Sarkozy and Medvedev 
September 8, only noting that Russia expected the EU to send 
"at least 250" observers. 

Russia defiant; Tandemocracy watch 

11. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed  that the EU observer mission,
limited to Georgia proper, was  a diplomatic success for Russia,
even though the GOR on the  eve of the Sarkozy-Medvedev meeting
had categorically refused to allow EU observers to participate in the
post-crisis  management. XXXXXXXXXXXX considered the
Sarkozy-Medvedev deal the most likely  compromise, and the
maximum that either side could expect. He  called the agreement
on Russian troop withdrawal something 

MOSCOW 00002701 003 OF 004 

that Moscow needed, in order to escape continued 
international pressure for not honoring its commitments. 

12. (C) Well-connected editors tell us that the mood within 
the ruling circles remains defiant. XXXXXXXXXXXX both 
told us September 8 that  they had seen Putin "at his toughest."
Putin brushed aside  the significance of any Western backlash
to Georgia: on the  Sochi Olympics, "let them cancel it: we'll
build one stadium  instead of two;" on energy, "we'll sell Central
Asian gas to  those who want it, including Asia;" on estrangement
with  Europe, "don't worry, European leaders tell me that 
everything will be normal." If the West did not want Russia, 
Russia did not need the West, Putin repeated. "They cannot 
intimidate us." At the same time, XXXXXXXXXXXX stressed
that  Putin did not advocate a preemptively punitive response
and  specifically demurred from pulling Russian investments from 
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, arguing that the markets needed 
more, not less, predictability. Putin maintained that 
Russia wanted to be like China -- to "sit under the roots of 
the tree" and build its power quietly -- but that immediate 
global responsibilities forced it to act. "When Russia is 
challenged, it must respond: we cannot just concede." 
XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that the leadership continued to
brush  aside the market's punishment of Russian policies,
arguing  that they believe the public line that America's
downturn --  and not Georgia -- has precipitated Russia's beating. 

13. (C) The public allegations made by Medvedev and Putin 
that the U.S. turned a blind eye to, or encouraged, Georgia's 
August 7 attack on Tskhinvali continue to be reinforced in 
private. Putin told the editors that the U.S. was engaged in 
cynical electoral politics and needed to create an "enemy" to 
combat, and received no push back in his description of a 
one-sided U.S. policy aimed at shoring up the "puppet," 
Saakashvili. There was also no argument with Putin's 
assessment that the Georgian leader was politically "dead," 
likely insane, and irrelevant to Russia's decision to 
recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia. XXXXXXXXXXXX
 marveled at  Putin's posture, noting the Prime Minister was 
"convinced that right was on his side," and authoritarian in tone. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX,  warned us that Russian actions were
animated by a wave of  patriotism and anti-American sentiment.
"Never have Russians been so united behind Putin and Medvedev" 
a stance made easier, he noted, by the public revulsion towards 
Saakashvili, which he shared. 

14. (C) In assessing the ruling tandem, XXXXXXXXXXXX
 stressed that "Putin had proved himself" in the crisis; while
discounting  the theory that the Prime Minister intended to return
to the  Kremlin soon, XXXXXXXXXXXX said the war in Georgia
made it  absolutely clear that Putin did not intend to leave
Medvedev  alone. While XXXXXXXXXXXX downplayed the
demise of Medvedev's  reform agenda, he agreed that it had been
put to the side. XXXXXXXXXXXX struck a more pessimistic
note, arguing that the war played to the strengths of the anti-war
camp. Russians looked at U.S. statements and concluded that
America was uncomfortable with Russian independence and
hostile to  Russian strategic interests. XXXXXXXXXXXX
 argued that having "surrounded" Russia, the U.S. should
understand the backlash  that it produced. 

15. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us on  September 9 that
the President had emerged stronger because  of the
Georgian crisis. Whereas Putin appeared to take the 
lead during the fight, Medvedev showed his mettle by 
arranging the terms to stop the conflict. The decision to 
recognize the separatist regions was "unavoidable" after the 
leadership had decided to go beyond the borders of South 
Ossetia (a decision that XXXXXXXXXXXX linked to Putin's
personal  enmity for Saakashvilli) and underscored that
Moscow could  not backtrack on that decision. Medvedev was
apparently  comfortable with the state of affairs
XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that Medvedev looked "relaxed"
during a private dinner at Sochi on  September 2. For the time being,
XXXXXXXXXXXX sawMedvedev as  somewhat boxed in and
forced to take a more aggressive,  "emotional" public stance than his
usual lawyerly approach to policy. In the current Russian political
environment, any effort at taking a "softer approach" would only
make him  appear weak. 


16. (C) The September 8 Sarkozy-Medvedev document is a step 

MOSCOW 00002701 004 OF 004 

forward in setting clear deadlines for Russian troop 
withdrawal. However, the limits on the EU observer mission, 
as well as questions about the October 15 security 
conference, and Medvedev's insistence that Russia will not 
reverse its decision on recognition, presage the likelihood 
of a new "Cyprus-like" frozen conflict in the Caucasus.