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Viewing cable 09MOSCOW1488, ISRAELI FM LIEBERMAN IN MOSCOW

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MOSCOW1488 2009-06-05 13:01 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
VZCZCXRO1697
PP RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHMO #1488/01 1561306
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 051306Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3659
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001488 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL IR IS SY GG RS
SUBJECT: ISRAELI FM LIEBERMAN IN MOSCOW 
 
Classified By: Political M/C Alice G. Wells for reasons 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: Israeli FM Lieberman's June 2-3 visit to 
Russia appears not to have broken new ground diplomatically, 
but cemented Moscow's impression that the Russian-speaking 
Lieberman is one of their own.  The trip included meetings 
with Medvedev and Putin, as well as a lengthy discussion with 
FM Lavrov, during which Lieberman indicated that Israel was 
not considering a military strike on Iran.  Both sides agreed 
to hold off on scheduling the Moscow ME conference until 
after President Obama's visit to Moscow, and Lavrov quizzed 
Lieberman on a possible U.S. plan to bring together Israeli 
and Palestinian leaders.  Lieberman rebuffed Lavrov's calls 
for Israel to ease the pressure on Gaza and halt settlement 
expansion, while Lavrov agreed to consider Lieberman's 
request for Russian officials to visit the Israeli soldier 
held by Hamas.  Lavrov said that "nothing new" could happen 
on Iran until the U.S. opened its dialogue with Tehran, and 
repeated Russian concerns about the need to reach a 
negotiated settlement with this "important neighbor."  He 
reiterated that Russia had not transferred S-300s to Iran, 
but also had to consider its contract to provide the missiles 
to Tehran.  Lavrov thanked Israel for limiting military sales 
to Georgia, but thought other countries were supplying 
offensive weapons to Tiblisi, which could be emboldened to 
start "another adventure."  The FMs discussed expanding 
bilateral economic ties, and Lavrov raised Russian concern 
that Israel was partaking in "historical revisionism" that 
sought to blame Russia for the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s. 
 End summary. 
 
Behaved Like an Old Friend 
-------------------------- 
 
2. (C) Israeli DCM Yuval Fuchs told us that FM Lieberman's 
June 2-3 visit to Russia ran the gamut of international and 
bilateral issues, from the peace process to the payment of 
Soviet-era pensions to Russian speakers living in Israel. 
His visit centered upon a two-hour June 2 meeting with FM 
Lavrov that Fuchs characterized as a standard presentation of 
views, during which "nothing breathtaking" was said. 
Lieberman had a hectic day that began with a meeting at 
Medvedev's home on the outskirts of Moscow, then the Lavrov 
meeting at the MFA, a flight to St. Petersburg on a chartered 
plane to see Putin, and dinner with Lavrov upon returning to 
Moscow.  On June 3, Lieberman had breakfast with former FM 
Igor Ivanov (a personal friend), meetings with the heads of 
the Duma and Federation Council international affairs 
committees, discussions with Russian Jewish leaders, and a 
press conference.  He then departed Moscow for Minsk. 
 
3. (C) Fuchs explained that Lieberman conducted his meetings 
in Russian, shared stories about Moscow, and smoked, creating 
a comfortable atmosphere with his Russian interlocutors.  The 
Israeli FM "behaved like an old friend" commented Fuchs, who 
thought that the Russians acted as if they already knew him, 
although it was too early to say whether this personal 
diplomacy would have a measurable effect on already strong 
Russia-Israel relations. 
 
Lavrov-Lieberman 
---------------- 
 
4. (C) Fuchs said that during the meeting with Lavrov, the 
GOR's planned Moscow ME conference was not a central topic 
for either side.  Lieberman stressed the importance of 
coordinating such efforts with the U.S., and said it would 
not be appropriate to set the timing of a conference until 
after President Obama's visit to Moscow.  Lavrov agreed, and 
said that Moscow did not want to hold a conference that would 
not produce results.  Lavrov asked Lieberman if Israel was 
aware of an idea supposedly floated by S/E Mitchell to bring 
together Israeli and Palestinian leaders; Lieberman said no. 
 
5. (C) Lavrov pressed Israel to open checkpoints into Gaza, 
and suggested posting international monitors to allay Israeli 
concerns regarding smuggling.  When Lavrov argued that Hamas 
had stuck by the Gaza cease-fire, Lieberman retorted that 
Hamas would break the cease-fire when it believed doing so 
suited its needs.  Lavrov also pressed Israel to freeze the 
settlements, leading Lieberman to respond that "life goes on" 
and settlement expansion was necessary to accommodate growing 
communities. 
 
6. (C) Fuchs said that Lavrov criticized the U.S. on several 
fronts, telling Lieberman that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was 
a "present" to Iran, and the U.S. decision to isolate Syria 
was a "setback" for a comprehensive ME settlement. 
Furthermore, the U.S. failure to "listen" to Russia, which 
 
MOSCOW 00001488  002 OF 002 
 
 
advised against Palestinian elections, had allowed Hamas to 
come to power and eventually take over Gaza, thereby 
strengthening Iran's position in the region. 
 
Syria 
----- 
 
7. (C) Lavrov thought that the Turkish-led negotiations 
between Israel and Syria had been positive, and said that 
during his recent visit to Damascus, the Syrians indicated 
that they were ready to renew talks either through Turkey or 
Russia so long as they would include the future of the Golan 
Heights.  Lavrov said that he raised with Hamas leaders the 
need to allow visits to captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. 
Lieberman asked if Russian officials could visit Shalit, and 
Lavrov directed DFM Saltanov to explore this possibility. 
 
Iran 
---- 
 
8. (C) Lavrov predicted that "nothing new" would happen with 
Iran until after the U.S. began its dialogue with Tehran, 
although he thought there was a better chance to get a "clear 
answer" from Iran on P5 1 proposals under the current U.S. 
Administration.  He reiterated that Russia did not believe 
there existed hard evidence that Iran's nuclear program had a 
military dimension, and thought it transparent enough to 
detect whether resources were directed to military uses. 
 
9. (C) Lavrov expressed Russian interest in reaching a 
negotiated solution to the crisis surrounding Iran's nuclear 
program, and the need for the West to normalize relations 
with Tehran, a close Russian neighbor with which it shared 
the Caspian and its resources.  He raised Russian concern 
that an Israeli attack on Iran would cause instability in the 
region and an influx of refugees into the Caucasus.  Fuchs 
said that Lieberman responded that Israel "was not talking 
about such a response" and understood that an attack would 
cause a "chain reaction" within the region.  Lieberman made 
similar statements suggesting that Israel was not considering 
attacking Iran during his press conference. 
 
10. (C) Lavrov reiterated that Russia and Iran had signed a 
deal to provide S-300s, but that Russia had not transferred 
any weapons.  The GOR did not intend to provide regionally 
destabilizing weapons, but also had to take into account how 
it would be perceived by others if Moscow failed to fulfill 
its contract with Tehran. 
 
Georgia 
------- 
 
11. (C) Lavrov expressed Russian appreciation for Israeli 
steps to limit arms sales to Georgia to defensive weapons, 
but raised concern that other countries were supplying 
offensive weapons.  He was also concerned that the recent 
military exercises Georgia conducted with NATO might push 
Tiblisi to undertake "another adventure". 
 
Bilateral Issues 
---------------- 
 
12. (C) Fuchs said that much of the discussion between Lavrov 
and Lieberman focused on expanding bilateral ties, especially 
in the economic sphere.  They also touched upon parochial 
issues of concern to Lieberman and his constituents, such as 
the payment of pensions owed by the Soviet Union and Russia 
to Russian-speaking Israelis. 
 
13. (C) Lavrov raised Russian concern with "historical 
revisionism" regarding the Soviet Era and Second World War, 
which, he said, was particularly acute in Eastern Europe but 
was also present in Israel.  He cited Israel's official 
recognition of the Holodomor, the 1930s famine that occurred 
in Ukraine.  Lieberman explained that by recognizing this 
tragedy, Israel had not said Russia was guilty of causing it, 
nor that it was an act of genocide. 
BEYRLE