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06KIEV593, UKRAINE: RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR HOLDS CTAG, DISCUSSES

February 14, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV593 2006-02-14 14:24 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KIEV 000593 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/14/2016
TAGS: PTER PREL
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR HOLDS CTAG, DISCUSSES
GAS DEAL, IRAN 

Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 

1. (C) Summary:  Russian Ambassador Viktor Chernomyrdin told
a G-8(ish: see para 2) Counter-Terrorism Action Group
gathering February 13 that he assessed the terrorist threat
in Ukraine as low, but the Russian government had some
concern over the presence of Chechen separatists on the
Crimean peninsula and the possibility of separatist agitation
among the Crimean Tatar community.  Ambassador Herbst
observed that Crimean Tatars observed a moderate form of
Islam and instead highlighted concerns over the activities of
the Islamic community organization, Arraid.  Chenormyrdin
blamed Ukraine for precipitating the natural gas crisis with
Russia, while his guests expressed concern over the
non-transparent involvement of RosUkrEnergo.  When
Chernomyrdin implied the U.S. was responsible for the current
nuclear dispute with Iran, Ambassador noted Russia's own
culpability in providing Iran nuclear technology.  End
summary. 

2. (U) Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin
invited a group of ambassadors to lunch February 13 in
response to Russian MFA instructions to its embassies in
countries of the former Soviet Union to hold a G-8
Counter-Terrorism Action Group (CTAG) session.  Despite the
rationale, the gathering did not include the Japanese but did
include the Swiss and Spanish ambassadors. 

Low Terrorism Threat
-------------------- 

3. (C) Chernomyrdin noted that G-8 countries had a common
interest in combating the terrorism threat but the
possibility of a significant terrorist action in Ukraine was
fairly low.  Cooperation between the Ukrainian and Russian
governments in combating the terrorism potential was good.
On the law enforcement front, the Russian government was more
concerned about the trafficking of narcotics originating in
Europe and crossing Ukraine into Russia.  The Swiss
ambassador agreed, saying that his government was also
concerned about narcotics trafficking through Ukraine.
Chernomyrdin said the Russian government was also mindful of
the presence of Chechen separatists in Ukraine.  He claimed
that Chechen separatists found the Crimean peninsula a
convenient refuge for rest and recuperation.  The Russian
government also had some concern that the Crimean Tatar
community had some interest in gaining further political
autonomy or something more. 

4. (C) Ambassador responded that Tatars had not been a
problem in Ukraine.  By and large, Crimean Tatars observed a
moderate form of Islam.  Of greater concern was the Muslim
community organization Arraid (Ukrainian Muslim Interregional
Association of Civic Organizations), which received financial
and political support from Arab states of the Persian Gulf
and manifested some anti-West, radical Islamic tendencies.
When officials from those countries visited Ukraine, for
example, they would meet with Arraid, but not with the more
moderate Grand Mufti of Ukraine (who is of Lebanese origin).
Another concern was the possibility that Hizb ut-Tahrir might
make inroads on the Crimean peninsula.  (Comment:
Chernomyrdin's evocation of an alleged Crimean Tatar
separatist threat is also off-base given that the real
agitators for Crimean separatism -- such as the group Proryv
(Breakthrough), which set up a mock border post between
Crimea and the rest of Ukraine in mid-January -- tend to be
ethnic Russians, advocate reunification with Russia and are
believed by Ukrainian officials and experts to be
funded/directed by the Russian FSB intelligence service.) 

Natural Gas Arrangements
------------------------ 

5. (C) Chernomyrdin blamed Ukrainians for forcing the recent
crisis that led to new arrangements under which Russia would
supply natural gas to Ukraine with the March 2005 GOU
decision to renegotiate gas supply arrangements.  The
Ukrainians had never seriously addressed the issue until the
final weeks of 2005, Chernomyrdin charged.  The German
ambassador said his and other EU governments had serious
reservations about the enhanced role for gas supply middleman
RosUkrEnergo.  Chernomyrdin claimed the Russian side had been
transparent but the Ukrainian side had not.  The German
ambassador retorted that the situation was more complicated
than Chernomyrdin's characterization.  Chernomyrdin said
Russia's primary interest was to put the gas supply
arrangement on a market footing.  The British, German, and
Canadian ambassadors said that, while a desire for market
prices was legitimate, price increases needed to be gradual.
Chernomyrdin responded, "Your countries are rich, so why
don't you support Ukraine." 

6. (C) Ambassador observed that, if obtaining market pricing
was Russia's motivation, then prices of Russian gas to other
countries, such as Belarus, should have risen, too.  If there
had been no political overtones, then Russian television
would not have broadcast the shut-off of the valve regulating
the natural gas supply to Ukraine.  Chernomyrdin acknowledged
that the broadcast should not have occurred, but it had
happened. 

Iran
---- 

7. (C) The European ambassadors expressed their concern over
Iran's nuclear intentions and the possibility that the
situation could spin out of control.  When Chernomyrdin said

that perhaps they should address their concerns to the U.S.
ambassador, Ambassador observed that the situation with Iran
might not have reached a point requiring action by the
international community if some countries (i.e., Russia) had
not agreed to provide their advanced nuclear technology to
Iran. 

The Russian Residence
--------------------- 

8. (SBU) Note:  Chernomyrdin's residence (85/17 Vyshhorodska
Street) is located in a nine-acre, sylvan setting, with a
brook running through it, next to the Ukrainian foreign
minister's official residence.  The primary residence is a
grand country manor, while another largish house is located
near the entrance to the grounds.  The house, which once
belonged to a wealthy Ukrainian-American, is equipped with a
movie theater with photographs of the likes of Clark Gable
and Jean Harlow.  When Ambassador, tongue in cheek, remarked
on the displays of famous Russian actors, Chernomyrdin, who
has no ear for irony, sought to correct him, saying the
photographs were of American actors. 

9. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website:
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev.
HERBST

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