08TBILISI1409, GEORGIA: SITREP 15: LITTLE OR NO CHANGE ON THE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1409 2008-08-21 12:43 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5713
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1409/01 2341243
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211243Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9934
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001409 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC AND TASKFORCE-1 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/21/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SITREP 15: LITTLE OR NO CHANGE ON THE 
GROUND 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
1.  (U)  Summary.  Observers are not reporting any real 
movement to withdraw by Russian troops in Georgia.  According 
to the Georgian press, the Russians say they intend to set up 
a double line of checkpoints around South Ossetia with a 
buffer zone in between; however, Gori will not be in that 
zone.  High level visitors, including FM Stubb representing 
the OSCE chairman in office, Bob Simmons from the NATO 
International Staff, and the Romanian President are in 
Tbilisi; SACEUR General Craddock and USAID Director Henrietta 
Fore are also on the ground.  Senators Lieberman and Graham 
completed their visits August 20.  Georgian prisoners taken 
by the Russians in Poti have not been released.  The French 
Ambassador visited Sachkere, where Georgian troops remain in 
their barracks and Russian troops have not tried again to 
enter.  Russian troops detained the French Ambassador in Gori 
for three hours on August 21 before being allowed to return 
to Tbilisi; the French Ambassador accompanied two Amcit 
children who had been trapped in northern Georgia and were 
unable to return to their parents in the U.S.  End Summary. 
 
RUSSIANS STAY PUT 
----------------- 
 
2.  (U) According to the OSCE mission here, there is no 
evidence of any movement by the Russian army that indicates 
an intention to withdraw from Georgian territory.  Matyas 
Eorsi of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe 
traveled to Gori on August 20 and also found no sign of a 
withdrawal.  Eorsi said he had seen looted houses in Gori and 
reminded the Russians that as an occupying power they bear 
responsibility for stopping such crimes.  A Reuters 
correspondent saw trucks moving toward the Roki Tunnel, but 
no armored vehicles were in the convoy.  The Russians have 
reopened checkpoints at various locations around Gori and 
Poti.  They are reported to be "digging in" at other points, 
and maintain the checkpoint at Igoeti, just north of Tbilisi, 
that was the scene of protests earlier in the week. 
Explosions were heard all day August 20 at the Senaki base. 
UNOMIG has not yet resumed patrols in some areas, including 
lower Gali, but hopes to soon.  The German Ambassador told us 
that Georgian police are guarding the Inguri Dam. 
 
SACHKERE SITUATION SAME, FRENCH AMBASSADOR DETAINED IN GORI 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
 
3.  (C) Eric Fournier, the French ambassador to Georgia, told 
us that he was stopped by a Russian checkpoint on the west 
side of Gori, on his way to Tbilisi, and detained for three 
hours.  After numerous calls to Moscow and Russian generals 
in the area, both from Fournier and from Paris, he was 
allowed to proceed to Tbilisi.  In Fournier's vehicle were 
two Amcit children and their uncle who had been stuck in the 
northern Georgian village of Chiatura.  The safety of the 
children has been the focus of Rep Chris Smith's visit to 
Tbilisi.  Ambassador Fournier had been in Sachkere, where 
Georgian troops are still in their base despite Russian 
attempts to remove them. The German Ambassador visited Gori 
on August 20th and reported being delayed at a Russian 
checkpoint for an hour. 
 
4.  (C)  The British Ambassador told us that Foreign 
Secretary Miliband had productive meetings with Georgian 
leaders and that he expects his government to push for 
extensive economic support for reconstruction.  In meetings 
with Saakashvili, the Foreign Secretary urged the Georgians 
to resist further Russian provocations.  Miliband encouraged 
PM Gurgenidze to attend a September conference in London to 
raise investment capital.  Miliband also met with members of 
civil society and the opposition who told him that they 
support Saakashvili's government, but will raise questions 
related to the government's management of the crisis when the 
Russians had gone. 
 
26.6 MILLION IN DAMAGES TO COAST GUARD PROPERTY 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
4.  (U) The Georgia Coast Guard estimates its losses of 
buildings and equipment in Poti at USD 26.6 million.  A large 
part of the equipment, including a USD 3 million "GRIF" boat 
sunk in Poti by the Russians, was procured with U.S. 
assistance. 
 
CORDON SANITAIRE FOR SOUTH OSSETIA 
---------------------------------- 
 
5.  (U) The Georgian press is reporting that according to 
Anatoly Nogovitsin, deputy chief of the general staff of the 
Russian armed forces, the Russians will establish two lines 
 
TBILISI 00001409  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
of checkpoints, one on the border of South Ossetia and one at 
the "line of the zone of responsibility of the Russian 
peacekeepers."   The forward line will be manned by 272 
soldiers at eight checkpoints.  A buffer zone will be 
maintained between the two lines.  Nogovitsin said the town 
of Gori will not be included in the zone. 
 
SOUTH OSSETIAN DEATH TOLL AT 133 
--------------------
------------ 
 
6.  (U) According to an official of the Russian prosecutor 
general's office, 133 South Ossetian civilians died in the 
recent conflict.  Human Rights Watch had earlier described 
South Ossetian claims of 2,000 civilian deaths as 
exaggerated.  The Russian prosecutor is reportedly initiating 
criminal cases in connection with some deaths. 
 
MORE FOREST FIRES SET 
--------------------- 
 
7.  (U) According to the press, two Russian helicopters are 
reported to have dropped incendiary bombs over a forested 
area near the village of Kiketi, not far from Tbilisi.  The 
fire was reportedly quickly contained.  These reports have 
not been confirmed. 
 
U.S. SENATORS SHOW SUPPORT 
-------------------------- 
 
8.  (SBU) U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham held 
talks with Georgian officials in Tbilisi on August 20. 
Lieberman said it is important for the world's democracies to 
stand in solidarity with Georgia.  The two senators called 
for more robust military assistance to Georgia, including 
anti-tank and anti-aircraft equipment. 
 
GEORGIAN PRISONERS STILL IN CUSTODY 
----------------------------------- 
 
9.  (U) The Georgian soldiers taken prisoner in Poti on 
August 19 remain in Russian custody as of mid-day August 21. 
There has been no word on hostages taken in Tskhinvali. 
 
HIGH LEVEL VISITORS 
------------------- 
 
10. (U) Romanian President Traian Basescu visited Tbilisi 
August 21.  A member of NATO's international staff, Robert 
Simmons, arrived August 20.  OSCE Chairman in Office Stubb is 
also in Tbilisi to bring the first two of 20 additional 
monitors for the OSCE mission.  OSCE reports that they are 
still unable to go into South Ossetia since the Russians 
refuse to guarantee the safety of OSCE monitors.  SACEUR 
General Craddock and USAID Administrator Fore are in Tbilisi 
for an August 21-22 visit. 
 
AZERIS PROMISE SHORT-TERM HELP 
------------------------------ 
 
11. (C) A Deputy Minister of Energy told Emboffs on August 20 
that Minister of Energy Alexander Khetaguri has returned from 
Baku with a promise from the Azeris to fill Georgia's needs 
for gas, electricity, food and other goods in the short term. 
TEFFT

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