08TBILISI750, RUSSIA COMPLETES PKF REINFORCEMENT, ABKHAZ CLAIM

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI750 2008-05-05 14:32 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5494
PP RUEHBW RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0750/01 1261432
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 051432Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9398
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000750 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT. FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/06/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS GG
SUBJECT: RUSSIA COMPLETES PKF REINFORCEMENT, ABKHAZ CLAIM 
TWO MORE GEORGIAN UAVS SHOT DOWN 
 
REF: A. A. TBILISI 727 
 
     B. B. TBILISI 687 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1.  (C) Summary:  Russia completed its troop reinforcement of 
the (entirely Russian) CIS peacekeeping force over the 
weekend, bringing its total troop strength to somewhere 
between 2,500 and 3,000 soldiers, the upper limit allowed 
under the 1994 CIS decision governing the PKF.  According to 
United Nations Observer Mission to Georgia (UNOMIG) 
observers, most of the reinforcements are concentrated in the 
Ochimchire district of Abkhazia, outside the security zone, 
and in the Gali district. The Georgian Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs issued a statement on May 2 claiming that 700 
additional Russian soldiers had been stationed in Gali and 
500 more in Tkvarcheli, north of Ochimchire and outside 
UNOMIG's patrol zone.  UNOMIG patrols observed the CIS PKF 
bringing in ten 122mm artillery pieces, and noted that some 
of the incoming peacekeepers had airborne emblems on their 
uniforms.  On May 4, Abkhaz de-facto authorities claimed to 
have shot down an additional two Georgian unmanned aerial 
vehicles (UAVs).  The MFA rejected these claims and Georgian 
Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense officials told 
Embassy officials that Georgia has not flown UAVs over the 
conflict zone since the April 20 shootdown of a Georgian UAV 
over Ochimchire (reftel B).  On May 5, Georgian media 
reported a clash between Russian peacekeepers stationed in 
Ochimchire and Chechen fighters.  UNOMIG could not confirm 
the report, but told us that some shots had been randomly 
fired near the cease-fire line on May 3.  No injuries were 
reported.  End Summary. 
 
Russia completes reinforcement of peacekeepers 
--------------------------------------------- - 
2.  (C) Last week, Russia completed its troop reinforcement 
of the (entirely Russian) CIS peacekeeping force in Abkhazia. 
 UNOMIG observers do not have an exact count, but estimate 
that Russia has moved in two battalions, which would give 
them about 3,000 troops, the upper limit under the 1994 CIS 
decision governing the PKF.  UNOMIG also reports that the 
peacekeepers have brought in ten 122 mm artillery pieces 
(Note:  The 1994 CIS decision does not explicitly limit the 
number or type of weapons used by the CIS PKF, though it is 
unusual for the CIS PKF to have large caliber artillery as 
part of their equipment.  End note).  UNOMIG observers also 
reported seeing peacekeepers with airborne emblems on their 
uniforms, which suggests that the new Russian peacekeepers 
may be from a more combat-capable force outside the typical 
pool of Russian peacekeepers.  The Georgian Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs issued a statement on May 2 claiming that 700 
additional Russian soldiers had been stationed in Gali and 
500 more in Tkvarcheli, north of Ochimchire, outside the zone 
of conflict and UNOMIG patrols.  The statement went on to say 
that because of its military build-up in the region, Russia 
would bear the full responsibility for any military 
provocation. 
 
Abkhaz shoot down two more Georgian UAVs? 
----------------------------------------- 
3.  (C) On May 4, Abkhaz de-facto authorities claimed to have 
shot down two more Georgian UAVs over Gali.  The Abkhaz 
claimed to have shot one UAV down over the village of 
Dikhazurga, Gali district, at 16:06 local time and a second 
over the village of Bargebi, on the Abkhaz side of the 
administrative border at 16:51 local time.  A UNOMIG patrol 
reported hearing an explosion and seeing two trails of smoke. 
 The patrol was directed to an impact site where 30 Abkhaz 
militia were already present, and shown debris of what the 
Abkhaz claimed to be a Georgian UAV.  UNOMIG monitors were 
not allowed to photograph a large piece of the debris, but 
the Abkhaz allowed them to take several small pieces for 
analysis.  Preliminary analysis has been inconclusive, but 
UNOMIG has told us that the pieces they were given do not 
look like they came from a UAV.  The Georgian MFA denied the 
Abkhaz claim and officials from the Georgian Ministry of 
Interior and Ministry of Defense told Embassy officials that 
they have not flown UAVs over the zone of conflict since the 
April 20 shoot down of a Georgian UAV over Ochimchire.  The 
Georgian MFA statement makes clear Georgia's right and 
intention to continue flying UAVs over sovereign Georgian 
airspace in Abkhazia in order to gather comprehensive 
information about the Russian Federation's military 
intervention. 
 
UNOMIG cannot confirm reported Russian-Chechen clash 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
4.  (C) Georgian media reported on May 5 a clash between 
Russian peacekeepers deployed in Ochimchire and Chechen 
fighters.  According to the report, a shoot-out between the 
 
TBILISI 00000750  002 OF 002 
 
 
Russians and Chechens resulted in three wounded and the 
destruction of an ammunition warehouse.  The Chechens 
reportedly took 30 Russian peacekeepers hostage.  UNOMIG 
could not confirm the report, though
one of their patrols 
passed near the village where the reported incident took 
place and reported that everything appeared normal.  UNOMIG 
told us that the CIS PKF reported that some shots were fired 
on the evening of May 3 near the cease-fire line, but no one 
was injured. 
 
 
TEFFT

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