07TBILISI1063, ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILE FOUND IN SOUTH OSSETIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI1063 2007-05-08 12:53 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8868
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1063 1281253
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 081253Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6272
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 2120

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 001063 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/09/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILE FOUND IN SOUTH OSSETIA 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  On May 7, Noah Lane, Security Officer for 
the OSCE reported that a joint OSCE-Joint Peacekeeping Force 
(JPKF) monitoring team found a South Ossetian ZU-23 
anti-aircraft gun and an Igla (or SA-7) surface-to-air (SAM) 
missile between the villages of Nikozi and Avnevi, in the 
Zone of Conflict.  Lane said that armed South Ossetian 
militia at the scene fired shots into the air and forced the 
OSCE monitors and the Russian and Georgian peacekeepers to 
lie face down on the ground.  He said that the OSCE monitors 
and the JPKF were released without further incident, but were 
not able to confiscate the either the ZU-23 or the Igla, 
which are prohibited under existing agreements.  Also on May 
7, Georgian State Minister for Conflict Resolution, Merab 
Antadze, went to Tskhinvali to discuss this incident with 
Boris Chochiev, South Ossetian Co-Chair of the Joint Control 
Commission (JCC).  End Summary 
 
2.  (C)   On May 7, Lane reported that a joint OSCE-JPKF 
monitoring team discovered a ZU-23 anti-aircraft gun between 
the villages of Nikozi and Avnevi, in the Zone of Conflict, 
attended by several armed South Ossetian militia.  He said 
OSCE military observers also reported finding a tent near the 
anti-aircraft gun where an Igla SAM was hidden.  When the 
observers found the SAM, he said, the South Ossetian militia 
panicked, firing shots into the air and forcing the OSCE 
monitors and the Russian and Georgian PKFs to lie face down 
on the ground.  Lane said that one of the militia attempted 
to strike the Georgian peacekeeper with the butt of his 
rifle, but was stopped by an Ossetian peacekeeper from the 
monitoring team.  The monitors were released without further 
incident.  Lane noted that it was unprecedented for the South 
Ossetian militia to treat a Russian peacekeeper in this 
manner, adding that although the situation was calm at the 
moment, the South Ossetians seemed 'nervous' and further 
incidents could rapidly escalate tensions. 
 
3.  (C)  Ruslan Abishidze, Deputy State Minister for Conflict 
Resolution, told us May 8 that the meeting between Antadze 
and Chochiev had largely consisted of Chochiev restating 
de-facto president Kokoiti's demand that the GoG stop all 
contact with South Ossetian "alternative president" Dmitry 
Sanakoyev.  Abishidze also said that the commander of the 
Georgian PKF in South Ossetia recently sent a letter to JPKF 
commander Kulakhmetov reiterating the GoG's call for the 
establishment of a JPKF checkpoint at Didi Gupta. 
 
4.  (C)  Comment:  The latest discovery of prohibited weapons 
in the conflict zone is yet more proof that the South 
Ossetians are continuing to bring weapons into the ZOC in 
violation of existing agreements.  It also further 
underscores the need for a JPKF checkpoint at Didi Gupta that 
could deter the flow of illegal arms into the ZOC.  The rough 
treatment of a Russian peacekeeper by members of the South 
Ossetian militia is surprising and suggests underlying 
tensions between the de-facto authorities and their longtime 
patrons in Moscow. 
TEFFT

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