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Viewing cable 08MOSCOW2545, TFGG01: PARLIAMENT UNANIMOUSLY ENDORSES ABKHAZ,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW2545 2008-08-25 15:03 2010-12-01 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
VZCZCXYZ0005
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #2545/01 2381519
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 251519Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9682
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 002545 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PINR RS
SUBJECT: TFGG01: PARLIAMENT UNANIMOUSLY ENDORSES ABKHAZ, 
SOUTH OSSETIAN INDEPENDENCE 

REF: A. A) MOSCOW 2535 
B. B) MOSCOW 2491 

Classified By: Minister Counselor for Political Affairs Alice G. Wells; 
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 

1. (C) SUMMARY: In a solid show of support, both the 
Federation Council and the Duma voted unanimously to urge 
that President Medvedev recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia 
as independent states. Parliamentarians blasted Georgia for 
having launched a military campaign against South Ossetia, 
and pointed the finger at the U.S. as having planted the 
seeds for the aggression by arming and training the Georgian 
military. Having ratcheted up expectations of imminent 
Russian action, some observers now believe Medvedev and Putin 
will wait to see if the international community meets 
Russia's demands: UN confirmation of Russia's peacekeeping 
role and condemnation of Saakashvili. Medvedev can be 
expected to proceed cautiously, taking advantage of a 
situation that, at the moment, he perceives to be in Russia's 
favor. END SUMMARY. 

2. (SBU) The Federation Council, meeting August 25, 
unanimously approved an appeal to President Medvedev that he 
immediately recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia. In a remarkably organized and disciplined one-hour 
session, Council leaders and 45 members quickly delivered 
statements pillorying Georgia for having attacked Tskhinvali 
August 7. Abkhaz and South Ossetian leaders Bagapsh and 
Kokoity also addressed the session, proclaiming the support 
of residents of those territories for independence from 
Georgia. The Abkhaz leader also confirmed his readiness to 
sign a agreement on military cooperation with Russia. 

3. (SBU) Following smartly on the heels of that session, the 
Duma convened to consider a similar appeal to Medvedev. In 
that larger body, popularly elected legislators took their 
time to score rhetorical points. The resolution calling for 
recognition was introduced by CIS Committee Chairman 
Ostrovskiy. International relations Committee Chairman 
Kosachev introduced a companion appeal to the UN and to 
parliaments of UN member states urging them also to recognize 
the two entities. Once again, Bagapsh and Kokoity led off 
discussion of the appeal, charging that steps by "western 
states" to arm Georgia emboldened leaders in Tbilisi to 
launch its attack against South Ossetia. 

4. (SBU) Speeches by Duma party faction leaders took on a 
very anti-Georgian and anti-American tone. Communist leader 
Zyuganov and LDPR leader Zhirinovskiy specifically accused 
the U.S. of having precipitated the attack on South Ossetia 
by arming and training Georgian military forces, and that 
U.S. motives included destabilizing Russia and controlling 
energy transit routes from the Caucasus and the Caspian 
regions. Vice President Cheney was accused of coordinating 
the anti-Russian, pro-Georgian campaign. Zhirinovskiy 
alleged that Israel had intended to attack Iran just prior to 
the U.S. elections, and that the Georgian military strike now 
disrupted that plan. In the end, the lower house also 
adopted the appeals to Medvedev (for Russian recognition) and 
to the UN and UN member states unanimously. 

Not So Fast 
----------- 

5. (C) In the days just prior to the special session of 
Parliament, experts and academicians filled newspapers and 
airwaves with concern for the political consequences of 
recognition. While conceding that public sentiment has been 
affected by the events in South Ossetia, esteemed figures 
including former Ambassadors Adamishin and Lukin urged 
Medvedev to hold off on recognition. They argued that 
Moscow's diplomatic hand has been strengthened as a result of 
"Georgian aggression" and Russia's decisive victory in the 
war, and that now was not the time to consign the two 
entities to the same fate as Northern Cyprus, i.e. to being 
recognized by only one other country. 

Now What? 
--------- 

6. (C) There was little doubt that the legislative moves were 
coordinated by the Kremlin. The question remains, though, 
for what purpose? XXXXXXXXXXXX that the same Duma 
that had said nothing during the war, and had also not been 
called back earlier from its August recess, was now being 
used by the Kremlin to further muddy international waters and 
to give the Kremlin another card to play with European 
mediators. The Federation Council and Duma were already on 

record (as of March, 2008) as supporting independence for 
Abkhazia and South Ossetia. By orchestrating a solid show of 
support for independence from the parliament, she contended, 
the Kremlin can take a tougher line with respect to drawing 
back Russian forces to pre-August 7 lines of demarcation. 
Expecting that disputes over interpretation and 
implementation of Point 6 of the Medvedev-Sarkozy cease-fire 
agreement will continue with Europe and the U.S., the Kremlin 
can now either move to recognize, declaring that it cannot 
stand in the way of strong public sentiment, or it can argue 
for acceptance of its interpretation of Point 6. In either 
case, Medvedev will be able to demonstrate to the world and 
to the Russian public that, having weathered the storm of 
world criticism, he took quick action before opportunities 
created by military action faded away.  XXXXXXXXXXXX suggested that 
factors that might restrain Medvedev from immediately 
recognizing included positive signals from Europe, and a 
desire to await the outcome of U.S. presidential elections. 
Even if he chooses to wait, the parliamentary show will still 
give Russian diplomats enough cover to take tough positions 
on the future of Abkhazia and South Ossetia at the OSCE and 
the UN for months to come. 

7. (C)  XXXXXXXXXXXX did not anticipate Medvedev approving recognition in the immediate term. Acknowledging that supporting independence 
was not in Russia's objective interests, XXXXXXXXXXXX said 
Medvedev's decision would be driven by other factors. 
Medvedev, he argued, would use the vote to build pressure for 
an international mechanism that met Russia's bottom line. In 
particular, he argued that Russia sought a UNSCR confirming 
its status as peacekeeper in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and 
expected the international community to halt its unqualified 
support for President Saakashvili. Otherwise, he intimated, 
recognition of the two entities might be expedited. He cited 
an interview given by Saakashvili in recent days in which the 
Georgian leader reportedly declared that he would strive not 
to convince South Ossetians to "come back to Georgia," but 
that "Georgia would come to them (e.g., militarily)."  XXXXXXXXXXXX
charged that this only further confirmed Saakashvili's future 
military intentions against South Ossetia and the need to 
ensure that the Georgian military never launches a military 
attack against the region again. 

8. (C) Comment: The Duma and Federation Council's actions 
will be used by the Kremlin and the MFA in dealings with 
foreign intermediaries to demonstrate strong broad support 
for even tougher measures regarding the two regions, and to 
further ratchet up pressure against the Saakashvili 
government. Despite the unanimous votes, Medvedev and Putin 
can play the recognition game out further, increasing 
pressure on European allies to compromise on a 
Russian-preferred UNSC draft resolution while avoiding a step 
that -  XXXXXXXXXXXX's bravado aside - could have unpredictable 
consequences in Russian domestic terms. 
BEYRLE