07TBILISI996, RUSSIAN MILITARY BASE WITHDRAWAL FROM GEORGIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI996 2007-04-30 06:31 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0674
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0996 1200631
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 300631Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6214
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000996 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/27/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN MILITARY BASE WITHDRAWAL FROM GEORGIA 
RESUMES 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Russia appears ready to complete its 
withdrawal from its military base in Akhalkalaki and to 
finish removing all heavy equipment from its base in Batumi 
in 2007.  On April 13, the first of five convoys of Russian 
arms and equipment left the Russian military base in 
Akhalkalaki for the Russian 102nd military base in Gyumri, 
Armenia.  According to George Zakarashvili, Director of the 
Russia Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the 
Russians are withdrawing their personnel and equipment ahead 
of schedule, and are on target to close the Akhalkalaki base 
by July 1, 2007.  Withdrawal of 13 trainloads of heavy 
equipment from Batumi to Russia is scheduled to begin in 
mid-May and be completed by August 23, 2007.  Final 
withdrawal of the remaining personnel and equipment from 
Batumi will happen in 2008.  The status of the remaining 
Russian base at Gudauta, in the breakaway province of 
Abkhazia, remains unclear, and Zakarashvili said that 
negotiations between Russia and Georgia on the issue have 
broken off since last year.  End Summary. 
 
Russia ahead of schedule 
------------------------ 
 
2.  (C)  Zakarashvili told Poloff on April 26 that Russia was 
ahead of schedule in its base withdrawal activities. 
Akhalkalaki will be closed by July 1, he said, which is far 
ahead of the stated deadline of October 1.  Three vehicle 
convoys of equipment have already left Akhalkalaki and two 
remain.  He also said that the withdrawal of heavy equipment 
from Batumi will be complete by August 23, which is also 
ahead of schedule.  He said that the one positive outcome 
from the recent tensions between Georgia and Russia has been 
the Russian acceleration of the base withdrawal process. 
 
Gudauta status still unresolved 
------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C)  Zakarashvili said that the GoG does not consider the 
Russian base at Gudauta to be closed, contrary to Russian 
assertions, and wants to have regular, unannounced 
international monitoring trips to the base.  He said the GoG 
was confident that the base at Gudauta was an active military 
base and not a CIS peacekeeping base, and would like an 
international monitoring team to confirm this.  Negotiations 
with Russia over the status of the base broke off last year, 
he said, and have not resumed.  When asked if he thought the 
Gudauta issue could be resolved independently of a political 
solution to Abkhazia, he replied that the closure of Gudauta 
was a Russian obligation under the 1999 Istanbul Commitments 
and thus was a separate issue. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
4.  (C)  Russia appears on track to deliver on its commitment 
to fully withdraw from its base in Akhalkalaki by the end of 
2007 and from its base in Batumi by 2008, however the Russian 
base at Gudauta remains an issue.  It is unclear at this time 
whether recent comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin 
and Foreign Minister Lavrov on Russia's possible withdrawal 
from the Conventional Forces Europe (CFE) treaty will affect 
future withdrawals of Russian equipment and personnel from 
its bases in Georgia.  Except for Gudauta, there remains 
little left to remove. 
 
TEFFT

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