09TBILISI511, GEORGIA: UNOMIG BEGINS EVALUATING RESPECT FOR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI511 2009-03-17 13:56 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1655
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0511/01 0761356
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 171356Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1193
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0186
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4802
RUEHUNV/UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 4010

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 000511 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/17/2019 
TAGS: PREL MOPS KBTS UNOMIG UNSC RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: UNOMIG BEGINS EVALUATING RESPECT FOR 
UNSCR 1866 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary and comment.  UNOMIG personnel have begun 
evaluating the degree to which the various sides respect 
UNSCR 1866.  UNOMIG's position is that 1866 re-imposes on all 
sides the conditions of paragraph 2a of the 1994 Moscow 
Agreement, which defines a security zone that excludes all 
military forces and heavy equipment and a restricted-weapons 
zone that excludes all heavy equipment.  UNOMIG has observed 
what it considers to be examples of non-compliance on both 
sides of the boundary, but is hesitant to call them 
violations, because 1866 only calls for "respecting" the 2a 
conditions, and UNOMIG has no way to enforce compliance. 
UNOMIG considers Russian and Abkhaz non-compliance to be more 
serious than Georgian non-compliance.  Although the EUMM also 
uses vehicles similar to the Georgian COBRAs that UNOMIG 
consider non-compliant, it is unlikely that UNOMIG will cite 
the EUMM.  Considering the temporary nature of 1866, it is 
unlikely that UNOMIG will put its findings to any specific 
use.  The Russians and Abkhaz are almost sure to ignore such 
findings, and the Georgians are unlikely to take action 
absent steps on the north side of the boundary.  As we 
prepare to negotiate a new UN mandate, it will be important 
to ensure that its conditions are not weakened by the 
ambiguities of 1866.  End summary and comment. 
 
BACKGROUND: 1994 Moscow Agreement, redux 
 
2. (U) UN Security Council Resolution 1866, passed on 13 
February 2009, includes the following operative paragraph. 
 
-- 2. (The Security Council) Calls for the provisions that 
were set out in paragraph 2(a) of the Agreement on a 
Ceasefire and Separation of Forces signed in Moscow on 14 May 
1994 (S/1994/583) to be respected, pending consultations and 
agreement on a revised security regime, taking note of the 
recommendations on the security regime contained in the 
report of the Secretary General of 4 February 2009; 
 
3. (U) The referenced paragraph 2(a) of the so-called Moscow 
Agreement reads as follows. 
 
-- 2. The armed forces of the parties shall be separated in 
accordance with the following principles: 
 
(a) The area between lines B and D on the attached map . . . 
shall constitute a security zone.  There shall be no armed 
forces or heavy military equipment within this zone.  The 
territory between lines A and B and lines D and E shall 
constitute a restricted-weapons zone.  There shall be no 
heavy military equipment within this zone.  The local civil 
authorities shall function in the security zone and the 
restricted-weapons zone.  The police/militia employed for 
this purpose may carry personal arms; 
 
Heavy military equipment includes: 
 
(i) All artillery and mortars of a calibre exceeding 18 mm; 
(ii) All tanks; 
(iii) All armoured transport vehicles. 
 
THE MEANING AND AUTHORITY OF UNSCR 1866 
 
4. (C) Thereare some ambiguities in 1866.  UN Special 
Representative Johan Verbeke has noted to various U.S. 
officials his understanding that 1866 re-imposes the 
conditions of 2(a) on all parties.  UNSCR 1866 does not 
specify to whom its provisions apply, and Verbeke's reading 
is that it therefore applies to all parties.  He expects, 
however, the Russians will argue that it does not apply to 
them, because 2(a) in its original context did not apply to 
Qthem, because 2(a) in its original context did not apply to 
their peacekeeping forces.  Also, the word "respected" is 
less absolute than the clear language of 2(a), which declares 
simply that "There shall be no armed forces . . ," etc. 
Verbeke believes that "respected" means "complied with." 
Even so, a UNOMIG staffer explained to PolOff that there is 
an ongoing discussion within UNOMIG as to what authority the 
word "respected" really gives UNOMIG.  Personnel there 
already agree that 1866 does not give UNOMIG the authority to 
issue "violations," so they are discussing what they can do 
with any observed instances of non-compliance.  One idea is 
to cite instances of "non-respect," which they have done in 
some of their reports, although this locution seemed 
cumbersome to at least one staffer. 
 
5. (C) Deputy Director of the Georgian MFA's International 
 
TBILISI 00000511  002 OF 003 
 
 
Organizations Department Shalva Tsiskarashvili told EmbOffs 
on March 11 that the Georgian government agrees with 
Verbeke's basic reading of 1866 and its reimposition of the 
Moscow Agreement limits.  He also noted, however, that the 
Georgian government does not necessarily agree with some of 
UNOMIG's specific findings (see paragraph 7).  As far as post 
is aware, Russia has not expressed an opinion on Verbeke's 
reading
.  Verbeke himself noted in Geneva, however, that when 
he outlined his reading of the resolution to Russian Deputy 
Foreign Minister Karasin, the latter seemed surprised, as if 
he had not considered that possibility before, and did not 
offer a formal response. 
 
6. (SBU) Pursuant to its reading of 1866, UNOMIG has recently 
begun compiling observations of what it considers instances 
of non-compliance.  On March 5, it included in its daily 
sitrep, under the heading "Non-Respect for UNSCR 1866," a 
compilation of the military forces it observed on either side 
of the Abkhaz administrative boundary.  On the Russian side 
it observed Russian forces in battalion strength; 32 BTR-80 
armored personnel carriers; 10 T-72 tanks; 1 multi-purpose 
armored vehicle; 6 artillery guns; and 1 MI-8 helicopter.  On 
the Abkhaz side it observed 7 T-55 tanks; 3 multi-purpose 
armored vehicles; 3 ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft cannon; and 
approximately 2 platoons of the regular Abkhaz de facto army. 
 On the Georgian side it observed 22 COBRA joint light 
tactical vehicle. 
 
TROOPS, ARTILLERY, TANKS AND BTRS VS. COBRAS 
 
7. (C) Although it accepts UNOMIG's reading of 1866, Georgia 
has not accepted UNOMIG's determination that COBRAs are not 
compliant.  In a March 7 conversation between Verbeke and 
Ministry of Internal Affairs officials (reported to post by 
an American UNOMIG monitor -- please protect), Head of the 
Ministry's Analytical Section Shota Utiashvili noted that 
Georgia needs COBRAs to defend itself against the superior 
weaponry on the Russian/Abkhaz side of the boundary.  He also 
said that only two of the 22 COBRAs are armed, and the two 
armed ones (which sometimes carry an automatic grenade 
launcher, sometimes a machine gun) are not used for 
patrolling the boundary, but rather delivering forces to 
posts at the boundary.  Verbeke insisted that the COBRAs 
(whether armed or not) were not in compliance, but also 
agreed that such technical findings had to be put in context. 
 He said that the UNOMIG report to the Secretary General, due 
in May, would note the fact of the COBRAs on the Georgian 
side, but would also note that the Georgians had lost 
policemen along the administrative boundary and that the 
armored vehicles were needed for protection.  A UNOMIG 
monitor acknowledged to EmbOff that there was some room for 
interpretation of the applicability of 2(a)(iii) to COBRAs. 
He noted that 2(a)(iii) would not apply to every vehicle with 
armor on it (such as a civilian armored car), and that COBRAs 
were considerably less problematic than BTRs.  Ultimately, 
UNOMIG had to use some judgment in drawing the line between 
armored vehicles that violate 2(a)(iii) and those that do 
not, and its official position was that COBRAs do constitute 
a violation. 
 
UNOMIG VS. EUMM: NOT ALL VIOLATIONS ARE CREATED EQUAL 
 
8. (C) Verbeke faces a sticky political dilemma.  He himself 
has admitted that Russian and Abkhaz violations, which cover 
Qhas admitted that Russian and Abkhaz violations, which cover 
all three subcategories of paragraph 2(a) and the prohibition 
on troops, are more serious than Georgian violations, which 
cover only the third subcategory.  As he admitted to the 
Georgian Internal Affairs Ministry, however, he feels he must 
be impartial in his evaluation of respect for 1866, so he 
will cite all instances of non-compliance.  However, not only 
the Georgians, but the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) also uses 
vehicles similar to the COBRAs in its movements near the 
boundary -- and according to Verbeke's own reading, all 
parties must respect the conditions of paragraph 2(a).  In a 
strict sense, then, Verbeke could also cite the EUMM for 
non-compliance.  (Note: We have detected some impatience and 
irritation on Verbeke's part with the EUMM, possibly arising 
out of a competitive interest in establishing UNOMIG as the 
primary monitoring mission now and into the future.)  It 
seems highly unlikely, however, that Verbeke, a Belgian 
diplomat, will publicly describe the EUMM's use of COBRA-like 
vehicles as a violation. 
 
COMMENT: WHAT TO DO WITH THIS INFORMATION? 
 
9. (C) Although UNOMIG has included its observations about 
 
TBILISI 00000511  003 OF 003 
 
 
non-respect in its sitreps, Verbeke has given no indication 
he will raise the concerns in any public forum.  He seems to 
have adopted the view that, as a four-month "technical 
rollover plus," 1866 does not provide UNOMIG the authority to 
issue formal violations, much less attempt to enforce the 
resolution's provisions.  As he told the Internal Affairs 
Ministry, however, the observations will inform the Secretary 
General's report to the Security Council, which 1866 requires 
be submitted by May 15 with recommendations on future 
activities.  Since the process of negotiating a new mandate 
has already started, however, it is important that we take 
UNOMIG's findings into account now, without waiting for the 
Secretary General's report.  In particular, as we consider 
specific security regimes, we will need to avoid the 
ambiguities of 1866, which UNOMIG has shown itself reluctant 
to resolve publicly. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

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