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Viewing cable 09BERLIN978, GERMANY REASSURES THE BALTS TO INCREASE MANEUVER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BERLIN978 2009-08-11 10:10 2010-12-06 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Berlin
VZCZCXRO9421
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHRL #0978/01 2231003
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 111003Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4915
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BERLIN 000978 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/10/2019 
TAGS: GM MARR MOPS NATO PREL RU ZB
SUBJECT: GERMANY REASSURES THE BALTS TO INCREASE MANEUVER 
ROOM WITH RUSSIA 

REF: BERLIN 806 

Classified By: Acting Political Minister Counselor Stan Otto for reason 
s 1.4 (c) and (d). 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Germany continues to regard proposed NATO 
contingency planning to defend the Balts against possible 
Russian aggression as counterproductive and unnecessary, but 
it has gone out of its way in recent months to take other 
measures to reassure the Balts that it takes their security 
concerns seriously. Germany has again volunteered to head 
the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission, and Defense Minister 
Jung made an unprecedented trip to all three countries in 
early June. The German MFA and MOD hope these and other 
measures will assuage Baltic fears sufficiently to allow 
German initiatives in drawing Russia closer to NATO to go 
forward. The MFA sees an opportunity to deepen security 
cooperation, even on missile defense given increased Russian 
concern regarding Iran. Overall, Germany recognizes that 
working with Russia is difficult, but hopes that U.S. efforts 
to improve relations along with increased NATO-Russian 
cooperation will move Russia further along the path to 
becoming a reliable international partner. END SUMMARY. 

REACHING OUT 

2. (C) While the MFA and MOD offices responsible for the 
Baltic countries and NATO do not characterize it as such, 
Germany appears to have undertaken a deliberate effort in 
recent months to demonstrate to the Balts that it takes their 
security concerns seriously. It has volunteered again to 
head the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission, beginning August 
31, which involves the deployment of four fighter aircraft to 
Lithuania. Everyone recognizes that the aircraft themselves 
could do little against a Russian attack, but Germany hopes 
the Balts see them as a symbol of German (and NATO) 
commitment to Article 5. Given the extreme economic troubles 
in the Balts, the German MOD expects this commitment to last 
several more years, as the countries are unlikely to be able 
to afford their own aircraft anytime soon. 

3. (C) Another indication of German efforts to build bridges 
to the Balts was Defense Minister Jung's unprecedented trip 
to all three countries in early June to discuss how to 
increase security cooperation. During the four-day trip, 
Jung not only met his counterparts, but with the presidents 
of all three countries as well. For the most part, the visit 
was about building upon an already robust relationship, which 
has included German training and exchange programs for 
hundreds of Baltic troops in recent years. 

THE WORRIES AND HOPES 

4. (C) Although MFA Head of Northern Europe Division Thomas 
Terstegen argues that the Baltic states are less concerned 
about Russian aggression than they were last fall in the 
immediate aftermath of the war in Georgia, contacts recognize 
that the fundamental apprehension regarding Russia will not 
disappear soon. MFA Deputy Head of NATO Division Gunnar 
Denecke wondered whether the July 16 open letter to the U.S. 
signed by former Central and Eastern European leaders -- 
along with Swedish Defense Minister Tolgfors July 3 comments 
regarding the EU's Baltic Sea Strategy -- would cause the 
Balts to become more suspicious of Russian intentions. 

5. (C) The MFA considers the efforts of "some NATO partners, 
like the Balts" to stall NATO-Russia Council (NRC) 
cooperation as an impediment to U.S. efforts to improve 
relations with Russia. Moreover, the Balts' demand for NATO 
contingency planning against possible Russian aggression is 
likely to worry Russia even more, according to the MOD. Even 
though the Balts are proving troublesome in the NRC, the MFA 
is equally frustrated by Russia's attempts to block 
cooperation. The MFA believes the best move Russia could 
take to improve NRC relations would be to remove (Russian 
Permanent Representative) Rogozin from Brussels. 

6. (C) Despite these tensions, the MFA sees a window of 
opportunity to improve security cooperation with Russia 
because of growing Russian suspicion of Iran. Looking at the 
recent G8 Summit statement and conversations from 
German-Russian consultations in July, the MFA thinks Russia 
may be willing to cooperate more with NATO vis-a-vis Iran, 
perhaps even on missile defense (MD). Although the MFA 
acknowledges that it would be a hard sell, they do not 
consider it a lost cause. 

COMMENT 

7. (C) The Germans are well-aware that their attempts to 
accommodate and reach out to the Russians are viewed with 
suspicion by many countries in eastern Europe. Defense 

BERLIN 00000978 002 OF 002 


Minister Jung's trip to the Baltic countries, Germany's 
participation in the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission and 
Steinmeier's joint visit to Ukraine with Polish FM Sikorski 
(reftel) are all aimed at reassuring the Balts and other east 
Europeans that Berlin takes their security concerns 
seriously. The German calculation is that these efforts will 
give them more freedom to draw Russia closer to NATO without 
incurring automatic opposition from the new Allies. The 
Germans are also hoping to forestall moves that they feel 
would be counterproductive to the development of closer 
NATO-Russia relations, particularly NATO contingency planning 
oriented specifically against possible Russian aggression. 
On MD, the Germans seem to be betting that in the end, we 
will decide to pursue some kind of system to protect European 
allies and forward-deployed U.S. forces against missile 
threats. As a result, they are urging the Russians to keep 
an open mind about MD so that this issue does not derail 
overall NATO-Russia cooperation down the road. End Comment. 
Bradtke