07TBILISI2089, GEORGIA MISSILE INVESTIGATION UPDATE — AUGUST 21

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2089 2007-08-21 11:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5767
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2089/01 2331152
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 211152Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7374
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA IMMEDIATE 0027
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING IMMEDIATE 0081
RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA IMMEDIATE 0018
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA IMMEDIATE 0017
RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA IMMEDIATE 0012
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA IMMEDIATE 0017
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA IMMEDIATE 0013
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA IMMEDIATE 0014

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002089 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/21/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV OSCE GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA MISSILE INVESTIGATION UPDATE -- AUGUST 21 
 
REF: TBILISI 2075 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Mark X. Perry for reasons 1.4(b&d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
1. (C) A second round of the International Group of Experts 
(IGE) has completed a report on the August 6 missile impact, 
endorsing the conclusions made by earlier experts while 
providing additional detail and more specific information to 
confirm that Georgian aircraft could not have fired the 
missile.  In a candid meeting with Charge halfway through his 
visit to Tbilisi, visiting OSCE representative Miomir Zuzul 
indicated it was clear to him that the August 6 missile came 
from a Russian plane that crossed into Georgia.  He said the 
Russian Ambassador had hotly disputed this charge, leading 
Zuzul to believe the Russians will not change their story, 
regardless of the evidence.  While saying the general picture 
of the incident was clear, Zuzul noted there was some 
difference of opinion on the motive: Georgian investigators 
tend to believe the missile was released as part of evasive 
maneuvers, while members of the current installment of the 
International Group of Experts (IGE) have spelled out in 
their report a "possible scenario" of an intentional attack. 
End Summary. 
 
New International Report Builds the Record 
------------------------------------------ 
2. (SBU) On August 21 post obtained (and e-mailed to EUR/CARC 
and elsewhere) the report produced by the second version of 
the IEG, consisting of two experts from Estonia, two from 
Poland, and one from the U.K.  The report endorsed the 
conclusions of the earlier IGE report, and added further 
technical details about the firing of the missile and the 
reaction of Georgian personnel manning a nearby radar 
installation, who turned off the radar when they spotted the 
missile.  The experts reported examining all Georgian SU-25 
aircraft and confirming that none of them could have fired 
the missile.  According to the report, the missile was made 
in Russia in 1992, and "within the region Russia is the only 
feasible nation capable of using the weapon correctly." 
While noting that the IGE is not claiming that the radar was 
deliberately attacked, the reports lays out a "possible 
scenario" in which the missile was launched intentionally, 
but then missed the target because it was unable to home in 
on the radar after it was deactivated. 
 
3. (SBU) The report makes a number of recommendations for 
further investigation, including seeking information from the 
Russian manufacturer, from pilots who fly this type of 
aircraft and use this missile, and radar tracks from 
neighboring countries.  In particular, the IGE argued that 
"more information about the incident could be determined if 
Russia supplied the military (primary) radar tracks in 
addition to the secondary tracks already received." 
 
Zuzul Sees a Clear Picture 
-------------------------- 
4. (C) Accompanied by Spain's Charge to OSCE Perez and Acting 
OSCE Head of Mission in Georgia Nikolaev, Zuzul, a former 
Croatian Foreign Minister acting as a Personal Representative 
of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, told Charge August 20 that 
there was a "clear general picture" of the August 6 incident, 
with compelling evidence that Russia was responsible.  He 
noted that there remained some disagreement about why the 
incident happened: members of the second wave of the IGE were 
inclined to the view that it was a planned Russian attack, 
while Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) 
investigators believed the missile was dropped as the plane 
tried to evade an attack by the South Ossetians, who 
apparently believed the plane was Georgian.  While 
acknowledging he was a layman and the IEG experts were 
impressive, Zuzul said he personally found the MOIA 
explanation more convincing, adding that it was notable that 
the Georgians favored an interpretation that cast Russian 
intentions in a less negative light. 
 
5. (C) Zuzul said his Georgian interlocutors had taken a 
constructive approach to the investigation, in contrast to 
Russian Ambassador Kovalenko.  Zuzul said Kovalenko had been 
highly agitated in their meeting, pitching a story that the 
Georgians fabricated the attack and showing no readiness to 
listen to other arguments.  Zuzul was not impressed with 
Kovalenko's "evidence," saying the Russian's arguments defied 
 
TBILISI 00002089  002 OF 002 
 
 
logic and contradicted themselves in a number of ways.  When 
Kovalenko criticized the IGE investigation, Zuzul told him 
the IGE was willing to meet with Russian experts, but 
Kovalenko did not respond to the offer.  Zuzul said that, 
despite the strong evidence, he thought it highly unlikely 
the Russians would "change their story" and admit 
responsibility. 
 
6. (C) Zuzul agreed with Charge on the importance of 
responding to this incident in a way that will deter future 
such incidents, recognizing that another missile attack could 
produce fatalities and lead to even greater problems.  Zuzul 
said that, in order to produce an even more credible and 
clear report of what happened, he was close to deciding to 
recommend that OSCE or the UN invite a higher-level group of 
experts for a more official report.  He said he envisioned 
Russia and Georgia being invited to participate, but he took 
Charge's point that it would be problematic to include the 
accused parties in the investigation.  He also expressed 
interest in the idea of OSCE providing a radar expert to work 
with the Georgians, in order to provide an independent 
confirmation of airspace incursions, at least until Georgia 
is linked up to NATO radar this fall. 
 
Comment 
------- 
7. (C) We are somewhat skeptical of supporting another 
higher-level investigation by the OSCE or the UN.  We wonder 
how Zuzul, as a representative of the OSCE, can argue 
effectively at the OSCE for a higher-level investigation that 
excludes the Georgians and the Russians.  If the Russians and 
Georgians are included in the investigation, we would expect 
an outcome similar to the UN-led report on the March 11 
Kodori attack, which took months to generate and did not 
explicitly point out responsibility for the attack. 
 
 
PERRY

Wikileaks

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