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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI970 2008-06-10 14:25 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #0970/01 1621425
P 101425Z JUN 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 07 TBILISI 000970 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/11/2018 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
1. (C) Summary:  Georgian Foreign Minister Tkeshalashvili 
provided the Ambassador on June 9 with a non-paper outlining 
the steps the Georgian government plans to take to replace 
the (all-Russian) CIS peacekeepers currently stationed in 
Abkhazia with an international police force.  The paper 
states that Georgia will agree to a non-use of force pledge 
in parallel with the withdrawal of all Russian military 
forces (including the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of 
the additional paratroopers and railroad troops) and Russia's 
agreement to a new peace negotiation format.  The paper also 
calls for an increased UN role in the new peacekeeping format 
and reiterates Georgia's commitment to a peaceful resolution 
of the conflicts.  Tkeshalashvili told the Ambassador that 
the Georgians have not yet decided when to start the formal 
process calling for the withdrawal of the peacekeepers, 
noting that Georgia first wanted to work with the U.S. and 
Europe to find an acceptable way to substitute Russian 
peacekeepers with European police.  She said Georgia was 
working closely with German Foreign Minister Steinmeier and 
EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy 
Javier Solana, and will provide them with copies of the 
non-paper.  Georgian Ambassadors will also begin briefing 
European capitals on the paper's substance beginning on June 
10.  End summary. 
2.  (C) Comment:  Coming on the heels of a cordial but 
unproductive Saakashvili-Medvedev meeting on June 6 (reftel), 
the Georgian non-paper represents the culmination of 
frustrations over recent Russian actions of the last three 
months while trying to maintain the diplomatic high ground by 
calling on Russia to be a constructive facilitator in an 
expanded negotiating format on Abkhazia.  The Georgian 
leadership is concerned that further delays on replacing the 
peacekeeping forces with international police and 
internationalizing the negotiating format will result in 
Russia further tightening its grip on Abkhazia.  A hasty 
Georgian call for the removal of the Russian peacekeepers 
would be counterproductive and it is clear that the Georgians 
are trying to frame this action in a way that prompts Russia 
to reverse some of its recent steps.  Ultimately, Georgia is 
trying to replace the peacekeeping structure while preserving 
the UN presence as well as the Russian role, should Russia 
choose to maintain it. 
3.  (U) Begin text: 
Georgia Calls for International Arrangement to Replace 
Russian Troops in Abkhazia 
Executive Summary 
1. The recent actions of the Russian Federation in Georgia's 
province of Abkhazia have serially violated Georgian 
sovereignty and conclusively discredited its claim to be a 
neutral peacekeeper.  This has created an urgent need to 
revise the failed conflict-resolution process.  (See section 
I of the "Supporting Materials") 
2. Georgia has responded with restraint to these provocations 
and consistently sought to act in concert with the 
international community.  It will continue to do so while 
pursuing a conclusive and peaceful end to the conflict. 
3. In accordance with its unambiguous legal right and in 
close cooperation with the international community, the 
Government of Georgia will now seek the replacement of 
Russian troops (deployed under a CIS mandate) with a truly 
neutral civil force overseen by the international community. 
4. Georgia will reaffirm its pledge on the non-use of force 
in parallel with Russia's withdrawal of its military forces, 
including peacekeepers, and its agreement to a changed peace 
process negotiation format. 
5. Georgia will seek to retain and reinforce the role of the 
UN in the new format. 
6. The provision of security on the ground and mediation at 
the negotiation table by the international community is now 
the sine qua non to achieve meaningful, concrete progress in 
ending the conflict in Abkhazia.  The Government of Georgia 
believes strongly that Russia should be an active and 
constructive part of this process, if it so chooses. 
7. The Government of Georgia reaffirms its repeatedly stated 
TBILISI 00000970  002 OF 007 
commitment to a comprehensive, peaceful, and negotiated 
solution to the separatist conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia. 
The Government of Georgia will continue to vigorously pursue 
a direct dialogue with the Abkhaz, aiming to develop and 
mutually agree a consensus on the final settlement of the 
conflict within the internationally recognized borders of 
Georgia, by offering internationally guaranteed measures, 
including the widest possible autonomy for Abkhazia (See 
section II of the "Supporting Materials.") 
Russia's Recent Escalation 
The peacekeeping and negotiating fo
rmats for the Georgian 
province of Abkhazia have failed to yield any progress on 
their principal goals over the fifteen years of their 
existence.  These are to allow the return of several hundred 
thousand refugees and IDPs to their homes, and to peacefully 
restore Georgia's territorial integrity, while respecting the 
legitimate concerns of the ethnically Abkhaz population of 
Even in the best of circumstances, the prevailing formats 
were ineffective.  Now that they have essentially fallen 
apart due to Russia's actions, the international community 
faces a dangerous destabilization in the South Caucasus. 
Russia, rather than providing security on the ground, has 
become a party to the conflict. 
This conclusion must be drawn in the light of the following 
-- In March, the Russian Federation unilaterally - and 
illegally - withdrew from a long-standing CIS economic and 
arms embargo on the secessionist leadership of Abkhazia. 
-- In April, Moscow sharply escalated tensions by decreeing 
the establishment of legal links between Russia and the 
Georgians regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  This de 
facto recognition in effect integrates the two regions into 
Russia's legal space and is in direct violation of both 
international law and Georgian sovereignty. 
-- On April 20, a Russian fighter jet shot down an unarmed 
Georgian aircraft over Georgian airspace, an act of 
aggression confirmed by UNOMIG. 
-- In the weeks since, Russia has continued to unilaterally 
increase its troop strength in Abkhazia, without fulfilling 
its legal obligation of consulting with Georgia. 
-- In direct contravention of all peacekeeping norms and 
agreements, Russia introduced offensive military troops and 
heavy weaponry to Abkhazia; actions that have been verified 
-- Russian peacekeepers have frequently acted provocatively 
in the conflict zone, endangering the life and physical 
integrity of ethnic Georgian residents in the Gali region of 
The Tipping Point: Russia's Introduction of "Railroad Forces" 
Russia's latest troop increase in late May, involving 400 
Ministry of Defense "railroad forces," offered stark evidence 
of Russia's true intentions. 
There is no longer any doubt that Russia is following through 
a well-planned scheme leading to the full annexation of the 
Georgian province of Abkhazia.  Russia is pursuing this plan 
in clear disregard of Georgia's sovereign rights, 
international law, and in flagrant disregard of the will of 
the international community, including the EU and the US. 
With respect to the so-called "railway forces," three issues 
are particularly important: 
-- Their introduction into Abkhazia marks the first time that 
Russia has overtly overstepped its CIS mandate. 
-- The April 16 decree is now being implemented militarily. 
Russia's attempt to justify its move on legal and 
humanitarian grounds was rejected by the international 
community.  This "railroad" operation is managed by the 
Russian Ministry of Defense, consists of armed troops, and 
aims to develop Abkhazia's infrastructure to enable 
large-scale military movements (among other projects, the 
"railroad troops" are building a special rail route to the 
military base in Ochimchire, and are paying close attention 
to the roads and bridges near Kodori, a Georgian-controlled 
territory in upper Abkhazia). 
TBILISI 00000970  003 OF 007 
-- The timing and context of the "railroad" operation is 
crucial.  It was implemented against the backdrop of the 
nearly universal condemnation of Russia's previous 
provocations by the international community; a broad 
international endorsement of the comprehensive peace plan 
developed by Georgia; and the developing prospect of a 
constructive dialogue leading to positive changes in the 
peace process. 
It also took place one week prior to the visit of EU High 
Representative Javier Solana to Georgia, and in advance of a 
meeting in St. Petersburg between Presidents Saakashvili and 
Finally, it was implemented after the assumption of the 
Russian Presidency by Dmitry Medvedev, implying that the new 
President intends to pursue the destabilizing policies of his 
Georgia's Response: Diplomacy & Clear Demands to Safeguard 
its Sovereignty 
Immediately after the "railway" forces illegally entered its 
territory, Georgia engaged in close consultations with its 
The Government sought to generate a clear understanding both 
of the gravity of the situation and of the urgent need for 
action.  Such action must include the direct involvement of 
the international community in revising, overseeing and 
guaranteeing the outcome of the conflict-resolution process. 
Georgia has made it very clear that a full reversal of recent 
Russian actions is an essential prerequisite to make 
substantive progress on resolving the conflict.  President 
Saakashvili conveyed this message to his Russian counterpart 
in a telephone conversation on June 3, leaving ample time for 
deliberations in advance of their June 6 meeting in St. 
At that meeting, President Saakashvili clearly outlined three 
measures Russia needed to take to defuse the escalating 
crisis in Georgia's territories.  These were: 
1. The withdrawal of illegally deployed Russian troops; 
2. an immediate stop to the ongoing construction of military 
infrastructure; and 
3. the reversal of the April 16 decree that established 
official ties between Russia and the separatist republics of 
Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 
Unfortunately, at the June 6th meeting with his Georgian 
counterpart, President Medvedev did not indicate any 
willingness to reverse these acts or to forego further 
Russia is also against international mediation in the 
conflict.  President Medvedev asserted during the June 6th 
meeting that Russia and Georgia could resolve the separatist 
conflicts bilaterally.  This is not Georgia's position. 
With its ongoing illegal, unilateral and often hostile acts 
that subvert peace in the region, Russia is clearly no longer 
a neutral party. 
Sadly, the CIS also has proved ineffective as an actor.  In a 
note sent in early May to the CIS Executive Committee, 
Georgia demanded to begin consultations on changing the 
mandate and composition of peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia. 
Georgia has yet to receive a reply to this request. 
Despite these provocative moves, Georgia remains convinced 
that Russia's constructive participation in an 
internationally run process would be welcome. 
First Moves: Withdrawing Russian Troops & Establishing New 
Security Arrangements 
Urgent action is now needed to design and implement a new 
mechanism that can finally establish genuine, internationally 
guaranteed security in the region. 
A negotiating format that fosters direct talks with
Abkhaz people and can lead to agreement on the implementation 
of a peace plan is equally essential. 
With respect to security on the ground, the Government of 
Georgia has proposed that the Russian forces in Abkhazia be 
replaced by a joint Georgian-Abkhaz local police force 
TBILISI 00000970  004 OF 007 
trained and supervised by the European Union. 
The UN's role can and should be retained; depending on the 
final outline of the new security arrangements, its role 
might even be reinforced.  We believe that non-military 
police operations will serve as the best confidence building 
measure and should be part of the first steps to be 
undertaken for the implementation of the peace plan. 
Common policing would mean that we and Abkhaz undertake 
common responsibility for security while being assisted in 
this endeavor by the international community.  However 
Georgia remains open to alternative international 
arrangements if agreed upon during consultations.  If Russia 
confirms that it wishes to act as an unbiased and 
constructive actor, it would be welcome to participate in 
this effort. 
The first step in this process must be for Georgia to 
formally request the termination of the peacekeeping 
operation under the CIS mandate and the consequent withdrawal 
of Russian troops from Abkhazia. 
In making this demand for the withdrawal of Russian forces 
from Georgian territory, the goal of the Government of 
Georgia is to help lead a joint international effort to 
finally establish viable peacekeeping and negotiating 
formats, and to resolve the conflicts on its territories 
within a reasonable timeframe. 
This will allow for long-term stability in the region, the 
return of refugees and IDPs, and the internationally 
guaranteed protection of the rights of the Abkhaz minority 
within a unified Georgia. 
The existing legal framework of the peacekeeping operation 
and international law give Georgia the unambiguous legal 
right to make this request. 
Georgia's request for the withdrawal of Russian forces will 
differentiate between the additional troops that were brought 
into the territory of Georgia in clear violation of its 
territorial integrity and sovereignty, and those troops 
connected with the peacekeeping mission. 
-- The additional troops (paratroopers and railroad troops) 
will have to leave Georgian territory immediately, without 
any reservations. 
-- Those troops operating within the peacekeeping framework 
agreed in the joint declaration made by CIS heads of state in 
2003 will have to be withdrawn under Article 1 of that same 
declaration: "In the case one of the sides of the conflict 
requests to stop the CIS peacekeeping operation in Abkhazia, 
Georgia, the operation is considered to be ceased, and the 
Collective Peacekeeping Forces Command guarantees withdrawal 
of the contingent and armament of the peacekeeping forces 
during 1 month, under the timetable plan agreed with the 
Georgian side." 
The Government of Georgia believes that the specified 
timeframe allows for constructive dialogue on the 
technicalities of withdrawal and provides the time needed to 
conclude negotiations on new peacekeeping formats that will 
provide genuine security guarantees.  Finally, the timeframe 
allows the first practical steps of Georgia's proposed peace 
plan for Abkhazia to be implemented. 
Meanwhile, Georgia will reaffirm its pledge on the non-use of 
force in parallel with Russia's withdrawal of its military 
forces, including peacekeepers, and its agreement to a 
changed peace process negotiation format. 
Summary of Next Steps: 
In summary, the Government of Georgia sees the following 
steps being taken: 
-- Formal withdrawal of consent for the existing peacekeeping 
-- Intense consultations with the international community to 
design new, internationally guaranteed policing arrangement 
for Abkhazia, Georgia. 
-- The withdrawal of Russian troops from Abkhazia, Georgia 
and their replacement by a civil force under international 
supervision led by the EU. 
-- The establishment of a new negotiating format that allows 
TBILISI 00000970  005 OF 007 
direct dialogue between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides, with 
the participation of the UN, EU and OSCE. Russia's 
constructive role in this process will be welcomed. 
-- The intense further development of the implementation 
details that will ensure broadest autonomy for Abkhazia and 
the reintegration of the Abkhazians into Georgia. 
Finally, priority must be given to the difficult question of 
how to allow for the return of refugees and IDPs to Georgia's 
territory of Abkhazia, as well as for their compensation. 
These rightful residents of Abkhazia were driven away by a 
campaign of terror labeled ethnic cleansing by the United 
Nations, the OSCE, and even Russia itself.  Today, the 
population of Abkhazia is roughly one-quarter of what it was 
before the separatist conflict. 
Over 400,000 Georgians and other non-Abkhaz were forced to 
flee under direct threat to their safety and lives; the vast 
majority remains either refugees or IDPs. 
The consequent depopulation of Abkhazia distorts its politics 
today.  Georgia recognizes that the rights and interests of 
the remaining inhabitants of the region (the number of which 
is estimated to be from 100,000 to 150,000) must be 
respected, but strongly disagrees that the entire fate of the 
region can be decided without taking into account the will of 
nearly three-fourth of the regions pre-conflict population. 
Supporting Materials: 
Section I below outlines Russia's most recent actions with 
respect to the Abkhazia region, many of which came in 
flagrant violation of international law and Georgia's 
Section II provides an overview of Georgia's proposed peace 
plan for Abkhazia, while 
Section III includes links to additional resources and 
I. Russia's Destabilizing Actions 
Russia's claim to be a neutral guarantor of peace in the 
Abkhazia region has been seriously undermined by its 
intentional attempts at destabilization. 
-- NATO has said that Russia's behavior "does not contribute 
to stability, but undermines it." 
-- The European Union, likewise, "is concerned that recent 
Russian moves in Georgia...might undermine stability on 
Russia's southern border." 
-- In a June 5 resolution, the European Parliament expressed 
its "deep disapproval at Russia's announcement that it would 
establish official ties with institutions within the 
separatist authorities of South Ossetia and Abkhazia," adding 
that it "deplores, in this regard, the decision taken by the 
Russian Ministry of Defense on 31 May 2008 to send its forces 
to Abkhazia to restore the rail and road infrastructure in 
the breakaway region in accordance with the presidential 
The timeline below provides an overview of the Kremlin's most &#x0
00A;recent steps regarding the Abkhazia region. 
1. March 6: Russia withdrew from the 1996 CIS sanctions 
agreement prohibiting military support to the separatist 
rebels, as well as limiting economic and trade relations. 
2. March 21: The Russian Duma (lower house of Parliament) 
adopted a resolution urging the Russian government to 
consider "the expediency of recognizing the independence" of 
Georgia's Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions.  The resolution 
also called on the Kremlin to intensify efforts aimed at 
protecting its newly-minted citizens in the territories. 
(Russia has been distributing passports to residents in the 
separatist regions since approximately 2002.) 
http://www.president.gov.ge/PDF/GEORGIA UPDATE 2008-05-31.pdf 
3. April 3: In a letter to the separatist leaders in the 
Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, Russia's then-President 
Vladimir Putin vowed to continue his country's de-facto 
recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia through means that 
are "not declarative, but practical" - such as by lifting 
sanctions and establishing legal links. 
TBILISI 00000970  006 OF 007 
4. April 16: Russia's then-President Vladimir Putin ordered 
his government establish official relations with the 
separatist rebels in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  These ties 
were to cover economic, social, scientific, informational, 
cultural, educational, and other fields. 
5. April 20: A Russian Air Force fighter jet shot down an 
unmanned Georgian drone in Georgian airspace over the 
Abkhazia region.  Later, a United Nations investigation 
confirmed that it was indeed a Russian aircraft that had 
downed the drone, rather than "Abkhaz air-defense forces" as 
Russian officials had claimed. 
6. April 25: The Russian Foreign Ministry's special envoy for 
relations with CIS countries, Valery Kenyakin, declared that 
"Russia will have to react through military means" in case 
Georgia uses force to establish control over its separatist 
7. April 28: Sergey Mironov, chairman of Russia's upper house 
of Parliament, said that Russia would protect "its citizens" 
in Georgia's regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 
8. April 29: The Russian Defense Ministry announced a 
unilateral decision to increase the number of its 
peacekeepers in the Abkhazia conflict zone.  The one-sided 
move breached the agreements that regulate deployment of 
Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia. 
9. May 8: The Russian Defense Ministry warned it might send 
even more forces into the Abkhazia region, in addition to the 
heavy artillery, armored vehicles, anti-aircraft systems, and 
over 400 paratroopers with 30 BMD-2 airborne vehicles it had 
recently deployed. 
10. May 9: The Russian ambassador to Georgia, Vyacheslav 
Kovalenko, claimed that withdrawal of Russian peacekeeping 
forces from Abkhazia would result in war. 
11. May 31: The Russian Defense Ministry announced it had 
sent approximately 400 of its own forces into Abkhazia - 
without consulting Georgia, and against Georgia's wishes - to 
rehabilitate the separatist region's railway and road 
infrastructure.  World leaders condemned the move as "clearly 
in violation of Georgia's sovereignty and territorial 
integrity."  Russia thinly veiled its actions by saying that 
they were "in accordance with the Russian president's decree 
on humanitarian aid to Abkhazia."  Its defense ministry 
labeled the new soldiers "railroad troops," claiming they 
would rehabilitate strategic infrastructure in the 
separatist-controlled territory.  However, there is no means 
of verifying such a claim, nor to assess how heavily armed 
the new troops are.  Furthermore, such engineering troops are 
not recognized - even by Russia itself - as legitimate 
peacekeeping forces.  Traditionally, their role is to make 
technical preparations in advance of military action. 
II. The Government of Georgia's Peace Plan for Abkhazia 
On March 28, President Mikheil Saakashvili proposed a 
sweeping new peace plan for the separatist territory of 
Abkhazia.  With international support, the plan will 
guarantee "unlimited autonomy, wide federalism, and very 
serious representation in the central governmental bodies of 
Georgia" for the Abkhaz.  Russia will be invited, along with 
other members of the international community, to act as a 
guarantor of the process. 
The new initiative builds on Georgia's 2006 peace proposal to 
the separatist authorities in Sukhumi and includes the 
following provisions: 
1. Introduction of a new constitutional post of 
Vice-President of Georgia, to be offered to Abkhazia. 
2. Guaranteed representation for Abkhazia in all governmental 
ministries and state agencies, and in Parliament. 
3. Engagement of the international community to guarantee 
wide federalism and broad autonomy for Abkhazia. 
4. Veto rights for Abkhazia on all decisions related to the 
region's constitutional status, as well as preservation and 
further development of Abkhazian culture, language, and 
ethnic identity. 
5. Establishment of a joint free economic zone covering Gali 
and Ochimchire districts in the Abkhazia region.  The plan 
includes joint management and control by Abkhazian and 
Georgian authorities; rehabilitation and productive use of 
currently depopulated territories; and redevelopment of the 
Ochimchire seaport. 
6. Provision of security guarantees. 
TBILISI 00000970  007 OF 007 
7. Gradual merger of law enforcement agencies and customs 
To elaborate the steps necessary to implement the proposals 
outlined above, several thematic working groups have been 
established within the relevant government ministries. 
A legal group will prepare the required constitutional and 
legislative amendments, including for the creation of a 
Vice-Presidency and guaranteed representation in the 
Government and Parliament.  An economic group will design the 
free economic zone in Gali and Ochamchire, and a political 
group will conduct negotiations to secure international 
guarantees of Abkhazia's autonomy. 
In parallel, the Government of Georgia is seeking to 
re-establish direct political dialogue and contacts with the 
separatist authorities.  A package of confidence-building 
measures will be designed and implemented in concert with the 
European Union; international involvement and assistance will 
also be sought for the thematic working groups. 
The Government believes that the measures above, if 
implemented alongside a change in
the peacekeeping format, 
can bring about a negotiated settlement for lasting peace in 
the region. 
III. Additional Information 
1. Resolution of the European Parliament on the Deterioration 
of the Situation in Georgia, June 5: 
pubRef=-//EP//TEXT TA P6-TA-2008 
-0253 0 DOC XML V0//EN&language=EN 
2. Statement by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, 
June 3: http://www.nato.int/docu/pr/2008/p08-076e.htm l 
3. Statement of the U.S. Department of State, May 31: 
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2008/may/105 472.htm 
4. Remarks by EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita 
Ferrero-Waldner, June: http://www.unomig.org/media/headlines/ 
5. Georgia Update: "Russia illegally deploys new troops in 
Abkhazia," May 31: http://www.president.gov.ge/PDF/ 
GEORGIA UPDATE 2008-05-31.pdf 
End Text. 


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