08TBILISI844, DAS BRYZA DISCUSSES ABKHAZIA WITH SRSG ARNAULT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI844 2008-05-23 08:23 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1635
PP RUEHBW RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0844/01 1440823
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 230823Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9494
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000844 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT. FOR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/14/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: DAS BRYZA DISCUSSES ABKHAZIA WITH SRSG ARNAULT 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1.  (C) Summary: In a May 9 meeting with DAS Bryza, UN 
Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Jean 
Arnault gave his assessment of the recent reinforcement of 
Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia, Georgian unmanned aerial 
vehicle (UAV) overflights and the prospects for changing the 
negotiating format between Georgia and Abkhazia.  He said he 
thought recent Russian actions in Abkhazia - including 
withdrawal from CIS sanctions, instructions to upgrade 
relations with the separatist regions, shooting down unmanned 
aerial drones, and reinforcing Russian peacekeeping forces 
with airborne troops - were largely uncoordinated.  However, 
Arnault opined that the lifting of sanctions and April 16 
instructions were probably a calibrated response to Kosovo's 
independence. The United Nations Observer Mission to Georgia 
(UNOMIG) was concerned about the reinforcement of the PKF 
with a Russian paratrooper battalion equipped with ten 122 mm 
D-30 howitzers.  Arnault said he has asked CIS PKF commander 
Chaban for the Russian threat assessment behind the PKF 
reinforcements and for a justification of the artillery 
attached to the paratrooper battalion.  EUR DAS Bryza briefed 
Arnault on a May 8 meeting of the Western Friends of the 
Secretary General (FOSG), in which he proposed reviving the 
Abkhazia peace process through direct Georgian-Abkhaz 
negotiations to elaborate President Saakashvili's peace 
initiatives; firm political pressure on Russia to prevent 
further infringement on Georgia's sovereignty; and the 
creation of a new forum to provide advice and raise money for 
the implementation of economic, social, and information links 
between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia.  Arnault agreed the 
current Friends process was not producing results and 
embraced Bryza's proposal but cautioned against format change 
by the Georgians without prior consultation with the Abkhaz. 
Arnault said UNOMIG considered Georgian UAV flights to be a 
violation of the 1994 Moscow cease-fire agreement on the 
grounds of separation of forces, but noted the U.S. position 
that unarmed UAVs cannot be read retrospectively into the 
agreement and provide military transparency.  Arnault also 
told Bryza that an international experts group would arrive 
on May 12 to begin their investigation into the April 20 
shoot-down of a Georgian UAV.  End Summary. 
 
Recent Russian moves linked to Kosovo 
------------------------------------- 
2.  (C) Arnault said that he was not convinced that the 
recent moves by the Russians - lifting of economic and 
military sanctions, Putin's instructions, and the PKF 
reinforcements - were part of a pre-planned sequence of 
events.  He said he thought the first two were a response to 
Kosovo's independence, and was of two minds about the PKF 
reinforcements.  He said he was undecided whether the new 
peacekeepers, particularly the paratrooper battalion, 
represented a potential offensive force (possibly for an 
operation in the Georgian-controlled Kodori gorge) or simply 
a response to a perceived modification in Georgia's military 
posture.  It is possible that because the paratroopers 
deployed rapidly, they were forced to bring all of their 
equipment, including the artillery attached to the battalion. 
 He said he has asked the commander of the CIS PKF, General 
Chaban, for a justification for the presence of ten 122 mm 
howitzers as part of a peacekeeping mission.  If the Russians 
do not provide a credible justification, Arnault said UNOMIG 
would ask the PKF to remove the artillery.  Bryza said that 
regardless of Georgia's military posture, which appeared to 
be a defensive reaction to Russian moves, it was not 
acceptable for the Russians not to notify either the 
Georgians or UNOMIG in advance of reinforcing the PKF. 
Statements by senior Russian military officials indicating 
Russia would use military force if compelled to do so made it 
clear that Russia is acting as a party to the conflict. 
 
3.  (C) Bryza characterized the current Friends process as 
broken, noted that Russia was clearly not acting as a 
"facilitator" of the peace process, and laid out a proposal 
for reviving Georgian-Abkhaz settlement talks.  Bryza 
described a three-point plan to :  (1) encourage Georgia to 
elaborate its proposal of autonomy for Abkhazia; (2) put 
pressure on Russia to prevent further infringement of 
Georgia's sovereignty; and (3) create a new forum to oversee 
the implementation of measures to create economic, social, 
and information links between Abkhazia and the rest of 
Georgia, and to foster direct Georgian-Abkhaz talks.  Arnault 
agreed that Russia had not behaved as a mediator since 1997, 
and that the Group of Friends was essentially the Western 
Friends, but underscored the importance of the Friends as an 
important multilateral negotiating format.  He characterized 
the current situation as both sides using the West to advance 
their own agendas, and both sides content with the status 
quo.  He said the Georgians think that if the West mobilizes 
strong pressure against Russia, they will push Russia out of 
 
TBILISI 00000844  002 OF 002 
 
 
Ab
khazia, while the Abkhaz think that a confrontation between 
the West and Russia will ultimately secure their 
independence. 
 
Abkhaz caught between 'a pig and a dog' 
--------------------------------------- 
4.  (C) Arnault told Bryza that the Abkhaz feel a tremendous 
amount of unhappiness and frustration about their current 
situation and now realize that Russia will never recognize 
their independence.  Russia provides just enough investment 
to keep Abkhazia from breaking down, he said, but substantial 
economic assistance has not materialized following the March 
6 lifting of economic sanctions. The Abkhaz realize now that 
Russia will instead invite Abkhazia to become a part of 
Russia, a notion they are very uncomfortable with, to gain 
real economic development.  Arnault said the Abkhaz see 
themselves as stuck between a pig (Russia) that wants to 
gobble up all of Abkhazia and a dog (Georgia), that wants to 
attack Abkhazia and take it back by force.  For any 
breakthrough in negotiations between the Georgians and Abkhaz 
to happen, he said, Georgia has to stop acting like an attack 
dog.  Instead, the Georgians need to send a clear signal that 
they are not the enemy, that they genuinely want the Abkhaz 
to be autonomous and demonstrate such intent.  Aside from the 
UAV incidents, he said, the situation in the security zone 
has been very quiet.  Georgia needs to keep the situation 
calm and send a strong signal to the Abkhaz that Georgia is 
not the enemy. 
 
UNOMIG considers UAV flights a violation 
---------------------------------------- 
5.  (C) Arnault said that UNOMIG does not agree with the 
legal or political arguments in support of Georgian UAV 
flights over Abkhazia.  An aircraft is an aircraft, he said, 
and the Abkhaz cannot tell if a UAV is unarmed.  Bryza 
countered that the U.S. view is that the UAVs increase 
transparency by providing assurance to the Georgians of what 
is happening in Abkhazia, especially outside the UN patrol 
zone.  The Ambassador pointed out that the fundamental 
problem with the UN position was that the Georgian UAVs 
cannot be armed.  Arnault agreed to consider the matter 
further and consult with UN DPKO on the issue.  Arnault also 
suggested re-engaging Georgia and Russia on allowing UN UAVs 
to patrol the security zone.  He said the Georgian side met 
with UNOMIG Chief Military Observer Khattak a month and a 
half ago, but UNOMIG still has not received an official 
Georgian response on allowing UN UAV patrols.  Bryza asked if 
the UN could deploy UAVs quickly once they got approval from 
the sides, and Arnault said that they would push for it. 
 
6.  (C) Arnault also mentioned that UNOMIG would have two 
international (one EU and one UK) experts arriving on Monday, 
May 12 to lend their expertise to the ongoing investigation 
into the April 20 shoot-down of a Georgian UAV.  He denied 
that UNOMIG was in any way against a separate, independent EU 
investigation into the incident, and said he has repeatedly 
told the EU this.  He said he expected the results of the 
UNOMIG investigation by May 16. 
 
7.  (U) DAS Bryza cleared this cable. 
 
TEFFT

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