08TBILISI2111, GEORGIA: ARRIVAL OF OSSETIAN FORCES WORSENS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2111 2008-11-13 05:05 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9544
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2111/01 3180505
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 130505Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0399
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 4722
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE IMMEDIATE 2212
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002111 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/12/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: ARRIVAL OF OSSETIAN FORCES WORSENS 
PROBLEM IN PEREVI 
 
REF: TBILISI 1988 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary and comment.  Ossetian forces now control the 
primary checkpoint south of the village of Perevi, Russian 
forces have established a new checkpoint north of the 
village, and as many as 200 villagers may have fled. 
International organizations have been unable to gain access 
to the village, however, and the situation on the ground 
remains unclear.  These new developments increase the 
likelihood of provocation, make ethnic cleansing a real 
possibility, and underscore an ongoing violation of the 
cease-fire.  Th EU Monitoring Mission considers Perevi a 
"Mini-Akhalgori" and believes the EU should push back hard on 
Russia and obtain withdrawal of the checkpoint before the 
Nice Summit.  End summary and comment. 
 
THE OSSETIANS MOVE IN 
 
2. (SBU) Perevi is an ethnically Georgian village with a 
population of about 1,100 located along the western side of 
the administrative boundary of South Ossetia (nearly straight 
east from Sachkere).  Russian forces established a checkpoint 
just south of the village after the August conflict.  On 
every map known to post, from both the Soviet and post-Soviet 
eras, the village lies outside the boundary, and both the EU 
Monitoring Mission (EUMM) and the OSCE believe the village to 
be outside South Ossetia.  The location of the checkpoint is 
somewhat more controversial, with some maps showing the 
checkpoint location outside the boundary, while at least one 
Soviet-era map suggests it could be right on or just inside 
the boundary.  Both the EUMM and the OSCE believe the 
checkpoint is outside South Ossetia, however, and Russian 
soldiers at the checkpoint have admitted as much to both 
organizations.  See reftel for additional background. 
 
3. (SBU) On November 8, the EUMM and the OSCE observed 
Ossetian forces largely replacing Russian forces at the 
checkpoint.  Although the Ossetians may have remained under 
Russian command at first, the EUMM reported that the 
checkpoint was entirely under Ossetian control by November 
12.  Neither mission has observed any provocative behavior by 
the Ossetians at the checkpoint.  The EUMM also reported that 
Russian forces have established a new checkpoint north of 
Perevi, near the village of Sinaguri, which may be inside 
South Ossetia.  No international monitors have been able to 
visit that location. 
 
4. (SBU) The Georgian Interior Ministry and press reports 
indicate villagers have been intimidated by Ossetian forces, 
such as by shooting in the air and drunken behavior.  Both 
sources also indicate some villagers, primarily women and 
children, have fled the village; the Interior Ministry 
estimates the total number at 200.  Local schools have 
reportedly closed.  The Interior Ministry has also stated 
publicly that Ossetian forces could be preparing to undertake 
ethnic cleansing.  Neither the EUMM nor the OSCE has seen 
evidence of Ossetians moving into the village or of such 
large numbers of villagers departing, but neither mission has 
been allowed access to the village since November 8.  Post is 
not aware of any reports of violence in or near the village. 
 
5. (SBU) Both the EUMM and the OSCE have been sending patrols 
daily to Perevi since November 8.  The trip takes over three 
hours from the EUMM's nearest base in Gori, however, and over 
four hours from the OSCE's headquarters in Tbilisi.  In an 
effort to gain a better sense of the situation, the EUMM 
Qeffort to gain a better sense of the situation, the EUMM 
began on November 10 to have patrols overnight in Sachkere. 
This is the largest town of any size in the area, and it is 
the likely destination for any villagers fleeing Perevi. 
Having patrols based there allows the EUMM to watch for 
evidence of such departures and to approach Perevi earlier 
each day.  As noted, neither mission has yet observed 
evidence of large-scale departures. 
 
STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS 
 
6. (SBU) At first glance, Perevi and its environs would seem 
to have little strategic value.  Unlike Akhalgori, for 
example, they are not located near a transportation route of 
national significance (see reftel).  On November 12, however, 
the EUMM's Head of Mission, Hansjorg Haber, described the 
situation to the Ambassador as a "Mini-Akhalgori," because 
the circumstances raise similar concerns.  Perevi does in 
fact have some strategic value.  The village sits on a road 
that leads into South Ossetia, and the checkpoint to its 
south sits at the juncture of two roads that both lead in. 
According to the Interior Ministry, these roads provide the 
 
TBILISI 00002111  002 OF 002 
 
 
primary access for two valleys and several villages inside 
South Ossetia, especially in winter: Jalabeti, Sinaguri along 
the northern road, and Tbeti, Gvidzga, and Kardmani along the 
southern road.  Other roads leads
to these villages from 
within South Ossetia, but they are impassable in winter.  It 
would therefore be in the South Ossetian de facto 
authorities' interest to maintain control over Perevi in 
order to ensure access to the other villages year-round. 
Haber echoed these issues in his description of the Russians' 
interest in maintaining control of the area. 
 
COMMENT: A SERIOUS CEASE-FIRE VIOLATION GETS WORSE 
 
7. (SBU) The situation in Perevi represents a cease-fire 
violation even more egregious than that in Akhalgori.  Unlike 
in Akhalgori, Russian forces have been maintaining a presence 
outside the administrative boundary of South Ossetia, and now 
they have facilitated an Ossetian presence there.  The two 
sets of forces also severely restrict access to a village 
that is both ethnically Georgian and indisputably outside 
South Ossetia.  Now, with the arrival of Ossetian forces, the 
likelihood of provocative acts from either side has increased 
considerably, and a real possibility of ethnic cleansing has 
emerged.  Although the EUMM and OSCE are working hard to keep 
tabs on the situation, international pressure will likely be 
necessary to ensure compliance with the cease-fire and the 
prevention of violent incidents or worse. 
TEFFT

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