09TBILISI697, GEORGIA: OSCE AND EUMM REPORT RUSSIAN TROOP

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI697 2009-04-08 14:46 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2658
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0697 0981446
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 081446Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1350
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000697 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/08/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: OSCE AND EUMM REPORT RUSSIAN TROOP 
INCREASES IN LEAD UP TO APRIL 9 PROTESTS 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 679 
     B. 4/7/09 TBILISI UPDATE (E-MAIL) 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary and Comment.  While Russian Foreign Minister 
Lavrov keeps warning of potential Georgian belligerence on 
April 9, the view from Tbilsi looks exactly the opposite. 
OSCE, UNOMIG and EUMM monitors are reporting to us that they 
do not see a Georgian threat, but they do see a substantial 
increase of Russian troops in Akhalgori and in Abkhazia. This 
activity coincides with an uncompromising line by the extreme 
Georgian opposition (ref A).  They are rejecting calls for 
political dialogue, issued by the Ambassador, the Patriarch, 
the EU and President Saakashvili and insist they will stay on 
the streets until Saakashvili resigns.  They seem to be 
counting on a large crowd to give them legitimacy.  Moreover, 
Tbilisi is awash with rumors (from the government and others) 
of Russian money being funneled into the coffers of the 
radical opposition (reportedly in part through Nino 
Burjanadze).  We do not have hard evidence to confirm these 
rumors, but the coincidence of this with the increase in 
Russian troops is disturbing.  End Summary and Comment. 
 
2.  (C) On April 8 an OSCE monitor and an EUMM political 
advisor told us that they had met with Russian Colonel 
Anatoliy Tarasov, Armed Forces Commandant of South Ossetia, 
on April 6.  The OSCE monitor confirmed that Tarasov reported 
the Russians would have more troops than usual in the 
Akhalgori Valley the week of April 6.  Reportedly, this 
number could reach as high as one and a half battalions, or 
1,500 troops.  The OSCE monitor added that Tarasov had said 
something along the lines of, "If we go back in, we going all 
the way."  He also noted that Tarasov is due to retire in 
three months.  The monitor repeated the OSCE's observations 
(ref B) of increased Georgian forces in some spots and 
substantial positions established along the ridge south of 
the main east-west highway. 
 
3.  (C) An EUMM political advisor confirmed that the 
increased numbers of Russian forces in Akhalgori will be 
substantial.  While he did not have a precise idea of how 
many, he guessed it could be as many as 2,000.  He said 
Tarasov's explanation was that twice a year, as the "winter 
troops" are rotated out and the "summer troops" are rotated 
in, they conduct joint exercises during the overlap period. 
The EUMM political advisor believed the winter exercises were 
underway, although he wondered aloud why winter exercises 
would be held in April.  He said Tarasov was pleased that the 
EUMM will have additional patrols out during the protests, 
but Tarasov expressed concern about provocations. 
 
4.  (C) According to the OSCE monitor, Russian forces brought 
the following equipment into the zone of conflict in Gali on 
April 7: 
 
6 x 152mm self-propelled gun 
23 x T-72 tanks 
4 x armored mobile command posts (tracked vehicles) 
15 x BTR-80 (armored personnel carriers) 
9-10 x MBRL System BM-21 "GRAD" rocket launchers 
23 x Ural trucks carrying equipment/ammo/stores 
2 x ambulances 
4 x communication vehicles 
3 x maintenance vehicles. 
 
5.  (SBU)  In addition to monitoring the Tbilisi-based April 
9 protests, we will also stay in close touch with OSCE, UN 
and EUMM monitors and report any additional information. 
TEFFT

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