08TBILISI1385, GEORGIA: SITREP 12: WAITING FOR A RUSSIAN PULLOUT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1385 2008-08-18 10:21 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2880
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1385/01 2311021
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 181021Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9909
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001385 
 
SIPDIS 
SENSITIVE 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC AND TASKFORCE-1 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/18/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SITREP 12: WAITING FOR A RUSSIAN PULLOUT 
 
REF: TBILISI 1380 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
 1.  (SBU)  Summary.  As of mid-day August 18, there is no 
evidence that Russian troops have begun to withdraw from 
Georgia.  The road from Tbilisi to Gori remains closed and 
travelers are subject to Russian roadblocks.  Next 
international visitor to Tbilisi will be UK Foreign Secretary 
Miliband on August 19.  Turkish planes are assisting the 
Georgians in fighting forest fires in Borjomi National Park. 
Leaders of two Georgian opposition parties issued a letter 
asking NATO to accelerate Georgia's integration into NATO. 
This sitrep covers events since the evening of August 17 
(reftel).  End Summary. 
 
2. (C) As of 1400 Tbilisi time August 18, the Embassy has no 
independent information about any change in the positions of 
Russian troops occupying Georgian territory, despite promises 
by Russia's president to pull the troops back.  Deputy 
Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria told the Ambassador that the 
Russians have not begun to withdraw.  He said that Russian 
troops have in fact moved into Sachkhere, west of South 
Ossetia.  Georgian troops near Russian positions at 
Akhalgori, a village on the cease-fire line have again been 
ordered not to engage with the Russians.  The deputy chief of 
staff of the Russian armed forces, Anatoly Nogovitsin, is 
reported to have said in Moscow on August 17 that 
preparations for withdrawal were underway.  Major General 
Borisov, commanding troops in Gori, is reported to have said 
that at least some Russian troops were moving from Tskhinvali 
in South Ossetia to Russia, but he added that because there 
are a large number of troops in the area, withdrawal could 
take some time.  President Saakashvili addressed the nation 
on television and said that once Russia withdraws, Georgia is 
ready for talks with the Russian leadership.  The Bulgarian 
government has reportedly offered Sofia as a location for 
such talks. 
 
3.  (C) Stephen Young, a military observer with the OSCE told 
the Embassy that he was unable to meet with General 
Kulakhmetov, head of the Russian PKF in South Ossetia as 
earlier planned.  Young was allowed to visit Gori on August 
18 along with a convoy of humanitarian aid from World Food 
Program and the Red Cross.  He saw no signs of a Russian 
withdrawal, and said that in fact the Russians have erected 
another checkpoint on the Tbilisi side of Gori, close to 
Igoeti.  He said that the Russians were refusing to allow 
journalists not accredited in Russia from visiting Gori. 
 
4. (SBU) U.S. Senator Joseph Biden met with PM Gurgenidze and 
President Saakashvili on August 17.  Gurgenidze outlined 
Georgia's looming balance of payment problems and asked for 
USG leadership to secure U.S., European and international 
financial institution assistance to support Georgia's 
macro-economic stability and reconstruction.  Gurgenidze told 
Biden that Georgia had spent 14 percent of its foreign 
exchange reserves to provide liquidity to the banking system 
and support the lari.  He said that even if no further shocks 
occur, reserves will decline another 3-4 percent in the next 
week or so.  He expects no additional new foreign investment 
this year needed to offset Georgia's 20 percent of GDP 
current account deficit. 
 
5. (C) German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with President 
Saakashvili on August 17.  Merkel supported Georgia's 
sovereignty and said that its territorial integrity must be 
upheld.  Germany supports the French-Russian six-point 
agreement, she said, and insisted that Russian troops must 
leave in accordance with that agreement.  She said that 
international peacekeepers should arrive as soon as possible 
and that corridors for humanitarian assistance to South 
Ossetia should be opened.  President Saakashvili told Senator 
Biden that Merkel had said that MAP could be possible in 
December, although publicly she said that Germany's position 
on Georgia's NATO membership has not changed since the 
Bucharest summit and that Georgia will be expected to fulfill 
all its IPAP obligations.  During the two leaders' press 
conference, Saakashvili strongly blamed South Ossetia and 
Russia for escalating attacks that precipitated the Georgian 
attack on Tskhinvali.  The Georgian government released a 
detailed timeline of the events before and after August 8 
that catalogue the increased intensity of South Ossetian 
shelling of Georgian villages and the insertion of Russian 
troops prior to the GOG's taking action. 
 
6. (U) David Cameron, leader of Britain's Conservative Party, 
was in Tbilisi on August 16.  He expressed the support of the 
British people and the British government for Georgia's 
independence and territorial integrity.  UK Foreign Minister 
 
TBILISI 00001385  002 OF 002 
 
 
Miliband will visit Tbilisi August 19; earlier press reports 
that UK Prime Minister Brown would visit Tbilisi were not 
correct. 
 
7. (U) South Ossetia's de facto president, Eduard Kokoity, 
dismissed his "government" on August 17, saying that his 
ministers had failed to perform their functions effectively. 
Boris Chochiev, formerly South Ossetia's negotiator with the 
Georgians, has been appointed acting de facto prime minister. 
 Kokoity imposed a state of emergency and a 9 pm to 6 am 
curfew on Tskhinvali. 
 
8. (U) Forest fires, reportedly started by Russian incendiary 
devices, continued to burn in Borjomi National Park. 
Georgian press reports claim that fires have affected 230,000 
hectares forest.  Turkish firefighting airplanes that were 
turned back from the area by Russian forces on August 16 were 
allowed in on August 17 and have helped to fight the fires. 
 
9.  (U)  Opposition leaders David Gamkrelidze (New Rights 
Party) and David Usupashvili (Republican Party) issued an 
address to NATO Heads of State and Government requesting 
accelerated integration into NATO for Georgia to support the 
Georgian people's Euro-Atlantic choice.  In the address, they 
argue that this is needed to ensure Georgia's sovereignty, 
democratic development and Euro-Atlantic values. 
TEFFT

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