Skip to content

06KIEV2190, UKRAINE: OPPOSITION CREATES TEMPEST OVER “SEA

June 6, 2006

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #06KIEV2190.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV2190 2006-06-06 16:43 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
VZCZCXRO9797
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #2190/01 1571643
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 061643Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY KIEV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9748
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 KIEV 002190 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/06/2016 
TAGS: PREL MARR NATO PINR RS UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: OPPOSITION CREATES TEMPEST OVER "SEA 
BREEZE" IN CRIMEA 

REF: A. KIEV 2034 
     B. 05 KIEV 1288 
     C. 05 KIEV 1226 

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i., Sheila S. Gwaltney for reasons 
1.4 (b,d). 

1. (SBU) Summary:  Anti-Orange Revolution forces are using 
the occasion of a joint U.S.-Ukraine mil-mil cooperative 
exercise in Crimea to stir up anti-NATO sentiment in the 
majority ethnic Russian peninsula and smear the Ukrainian 
government.  Demonstrators outside GOU-administered compounds 
in the Crimean cities of Feodosiya and Alushta bottled up 
U.S. military personnel (temporarily restricting access to 
food and water), followed the vehicles in which they were 
being transported, and otherwise prevented the reservists 
from doing the job they were sent to do --  building basic 
facilities for participants in the joint military exercise 
"Sea Breeze" that is scheduled to begin in mid-July.  The 
Ukrainian military unsuccessfully attempted to keep Sea 
Breeze preparations approved by the GOU low profile pending 
passage of legislation specifically authorizing the exercise. 
 We have energetically engaged senior levels of the Ukrainian 
government to resolve the situation and ensure the safety of 
U.S. military personnel, our paramount concern.  A positive 
resolution to this ongoing problem is important to the GOU to 
deny its opponents a political victory and to maintain its 
reputation as a reliable partner in joint military exercises. 
 End summary. 

A Summer Exercise 
----------------- 

2. (SBU) To be cohosted by U.S. (European Command) and 
Ukrainian militaries, Sea Breeze would involve 3,500 U.S. 
servicemen (up to 1000 ashore at peak time), 10 ships, 12 
aircraft, exercise related construction (ERC), and maritime, 
ground, and air training, with U.S. servicemen in country in 
various phases from May 20 until August 14.  In conjunction 
with the training, a command post exercise (CPX) would take 
place at five locations in Crimea:  Stary Krym, Feodosiya, 
Sevastopol, Saky, and Opuk.  The primary goal was to expose 
Ukraine to running a joint maritime-ground-air task force 
(e.g., a 115-person CPX operation in Feodosiya) and the 
associated command/control challenges. 

3. (SBU) Sea Breeze would run the second half of July, and 
the pack-up and departure would be completed by August 14. 
While the U.S. and Ukraine would provide the bulk of forces, 
twelve countries, including Georgia, Turkey, Greece, 
Macedonia, and Germany, would participate, since the 
bilateral exercise would officially be "in the spirit of a 
(NATO) Partnership for Peace" (PfP) event.  Observers from 
other countries, including Russia, would attend.  A U.S. 
destroyer would also spend five days at a commercial pier in 
Sevastopol toward the end of the exercise. 

An Unexpected Demonstration 
--------------------------- 

4. (SBU) The May 24 arrival of the first contingent of 113 
reservists by a military aircraft into Simferopol went 
unnoticed.  On May 27, however, the MV Advantage, a 
U.S.-flagged commercial ship, unloaded construction materiel 
and equipment in the Crimean port city of Feodosiya that U.S. 
military reservists would use to upgrade facilities at the 
Ukrainian military Stary Krim training range, as well as 
small arms to be used in the later Sea Breeze exercise.  A 
few hundred loud demonstrators apparently associated with the 
radical leftist Progressive Socialist Party of Natalya 
Vitrenko greeted the arriving ship.  At the same time, 
Customs officials at the port threw up obstacles toward the 
clearing of the cargo, thus preventing it from being moved to 
the intended construction site.  The demonstrators then took 
up positions at the gate of a Ukrainian military facility in 
Feodosiya, bottling up the first group of U.S. military 
reservists billeted there. 

5. (SBU) On June 1, demonstrators prevented the entry of 
buses carrying an additional 120 Marine and Navy reservists 
from the U.S. into the Feodosiya facility, throwing stones 
that broke a bus window and forcing the reservists to be 
diverted to a different Ukrainian government facility in the 
town of Alushta several hours distant.  Likewise bottled up 
by demonstrators at the gates, the later arrivals at one 
point had difficulty obtaining regularly supplies of food and 
water.  After numerous strongly-worded Embassy requests, the 
Ukrainian authorities succeeded in moving the reservists out 
of Alushta to join the contingents of U.S. military personnel 

KIEV 00002190  002 OF 005 

in Feodosiya early in the morning of June 4. 

A Series of Missteps, . . . 
--------------------------- 

6. (C) While initial Ukrainian government coordination was 
hesitant and confused, Deputy Defense Minister Polyakov told 
us June 2, the National Security and Defense Council met 
under President Yushchenko's chairmanship earlie
r the same 
day and decided: 

- to confirm the government's obligation to conduct all 
exercises according to schedule; 
- that local authorities in Crimea had exceeded the limits of 
their authority (comment: probably by acting autonomously 
without regard to central authorities); 
- instructed law enforcement authorities to take measures 
appropriate to the situation; 
- demand that unlawful activity be stopped; 
- establish law enforcement structures to provide law and 
order; 
- found that some foreigners, including Russian nationals, 
had participated in unlawful activities and, once 
apprehended, would be declared persona non grata and deported; 
- assigned tasks and responsibilities to the relevant 
ministries; and 
- critiqued the Ministry of Defense, police forces and 
security services for a lack of coordination from the early 
planning stages until the present. 

And a Lack of Nerve? 
-------------------- 

7. (C) The failure of initial planning and coordination 
probably arose from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (MOD) 
desire to keep a low profile in the wake of a February 9 vote 
in which Parliament (Rada) failed to achieve the 226-vote 
majority to approve an annual bill to authorize foreign troop 
participation in military exercises on Ukrainian soil for 
2006.  (Note:  The vote was 215 to 11, but pro-government 
forces did not exercise adequate discipline to muster the 
necessary number of votes.)  The MOD had hoped to table the 
bill once more during the first session of the newly elected 
Rada May 25, but was stymied when the planned session ended 
on the first day as the result of an Orange coalition 
parliamentary maneuver (ref A).  MOD officials, in 
discussions with us, urged caution and were reluctant to 
force the issue with local authorities out of concern that 
the resultant controversy would complicate passage of the 
military exercises bill, which MOD hoped would pass June 7, 
the first day of the next Rada meeting and in time to 
authorize the holding of Sea Breeze and five other planned 
exercises involving foreign troops on Ukrainian soil.  The 
limbo that the exercise status was left in, however, gave the 
political opposition room to seize on the issue, twist the 
facts and thereby grab headlines and television coverage. 

An Engineered Controversy 
------------------------- 

8. (C) In addition to demonstrators purporting to belong to 
Vitrenko's party, Embassy observers on the ground reported 
seeing flags and symbols of the Communist Party, the Party of 
Regions, and organizations with links to Russia, such as the 
youth group Proriv.  Embassy observers also noted, however, 
strong similarities among the demonstrators' props, 
suggesting coordination and possible common funding.  While 
including elderly pensioners who perhaps might have jumped on 
the bandwagon, most demonstrators seemed lackluster and only 
gathered in numbers at times when television cameras were 
likely to be turned on them.  The presence of some Russian 
political figures in Crimea also lent credence to the NSDC 
judgment that "Russian nationals participated in unlawful 
activities."  Vitrenko and others have spread spurious rumors 
such as allegations that the Advantage's cargo carried 
poisonous substances or that the construction materials were 
intended to build a "NATO military base" in Crimea. 

9. (SBU) Despite past assurances that Party of Regions was 
not opposed to Ukrainian military cooperation with NATO, the 
Viktor Yanukovych-led party has been singularly unhelpful and 
fanned the flames of controversy. 

May 30 -- Presidium of Regions political council supports the 
demonstrations in Crimea, calls for the punishment of 
responsible officials, and falsely claims NATO ships are en 
route to Ukraine. 

May 30 -- Party of Regions Ombudsman Nina Karpachova (no. 2 

KIEV 00002190  003 OF 005 

on the party's parliamentary candidate list) calls on the 
Prosecutor's General office to prosecute officials who 
permitted MV Advantage to enter Ukrainian territorial waters 
and alleges that the cargo unloading violated the Ukrainian 
constitution. 

June 2 -- The Regions-dominated Luhansk regional council 
urges local councils to proclaim their areas to be "NATO-free 
zones." 

June 4 -- Regions press service accuses the government of 
planning to send special police units to take action against 
the demonstrators, except that Regions deputy Yuriy Boldyrev 
persuaded the government to drop the plan. 

June 5 -- Presidium of Regions political council issues a 
second statement critical of government's poor response and 
lack of prior coordination and calls for dismissal of the 
Foreign and Defense Ministers. 

June 5 -- Regions and Communist Party deputies of the Crimean 
Autonomous Republic assembly join protesters in Feodosiya and 
assist them to inspect vehicles leaving the port.  Crimean 
Assembly deputy Vasyl Kisiliov from Party of Regions bullied 
his way into the Feodosiya facility where the U.S. military 
reservists were located and, with a Russian TV news crew in 
tow, confronted the U.S. Marine commander with a demand to 
inspect cargo containers. 

June 5 -- Regions Deputy Yevhen Kushnaryov (no. 11 on the 
party's parliamentery candidate list), in an ICTV television 
broadcast, proclaims that the arrival of U.S. military 
personnel in Ukraine was unlawful and unconstitutional.  He 
voices the opinion that Regions will vote against a bill 
authorizing foreign troop participation in military exercises 
held in Ukraine. 

June 6 -- The Regions-dominated Crimean assembly votes in an 
extraordinary session to proclaim Crimea a "NATO-free zone." 

Regions MP and Yanukovych foreign policy advisor Leonid 
Kozhara told PolCouns June 6 that the actions of some Regions 
representatives did not represent the party's position.  He 
said Yanukovych would issue a statement on the subject June 6 
or 7. 

Long Term Fall-out? 
------------------- 

10. (C) The Ukrainian government's ambitious efforts to 
support Sea Breeze in the face of its ambiguous legal 
position may have increased the difficulty of securing 
passage of the military exercises measure in the Rada. 
During a June 5 meeting with DATT, Deputy Defense Minister 
Polyakov, while maintaining a positive outlook, could not 
rule out the measure's defeat.  In the short run, a 
protracted delay in passing the measure will also negatively 
affect Tight Knot 2006, the Ukrainian military's bilateral 
exercise with UK military, involving fighter aircraft, later 
in June.  Regions and Socialist deputies have said publicly 
that at the very least the issue should not be taken up by 
the full Rada until the relevant Committees (still unformed) 
consider the question.  This could take weeks. 

11. (U) The Ukrainian military's failure to foresee the 
possible quagmire into which it might be stepping was perha
ps 
not unexpected since U.S. and Ukrainian forces have conducted 
exercises in the past with no attendant negative publicity. 
In 2005, the second half of exercise Peace Shield involved 
the participation of 600 U.S. Marines in Ukraine, and, also 
in 2005, a NATO exercise, Cooperative Poseidon, took place in 
Ukraine.  Earlier, the first Sea Breeze was held in Crimea in 
1997 with the participation of seven countries and 400 ground 
troops.  Significantly, a Sea Breeze exercise occurred in 
Odesa in 2003 with the participation of 600-700 U.S. Marines, 
when Viktor Yanukovych was Prime Minister.  Over the last 
decade, U.S., Italian, French, and Turkish warships have made 
port calls in Ukrainian cities on the Black Sea. 

Embassy Response 
---------------- 

12. (C) Embassy engaged vigorously and at the highest levels 
to ensure the safety and comfort of the U.S. military 
personnel and resolve the situation.  Charge contacted the 
head of Ukrainian Customs, the Foreign Minister, the Defense 
Minister, the Presidential Chief of Staff, the Minister of 
Interior, and the National Security and Defense Council 
Secretary to focus attention on the problem.  DATT deployed 

SIPDIS 

KIEV 00002190  004 OF 005 

military attaches to Crimea to provide on-scene liaison and 
supervision, kept in close contact with Deputy Defense 
Minister Leonid Polyakov, and provided regular updates by 
secure e-mail to offices following the situation.  RSO and a 
Locally Employed Staff investigator were in Crimea over the 
June 3-4 weekend and again June 6 to coordinate with 
Ukrainian law-enforcement bodies on crowd control.  The 
Public Affairs Section prepared press guidance and issued 
clarifying statements to the media.  Charge and PolCouns were 
in contact with Party of Regions officials to make clear USG 
unhappiness with its representatives' unhelpful behavior. 

13. (C) Most recently, Charge met/spoke with Deputy Foreign 
Minister Khandohiy and National Security and Defence Council 
Secretary Horbulin June 6 to emphasize our ongoing concerns 

SIPDIS 
about the Marines' security, comfort and impeded ability to 
complete the task they were sent to accomplish.  Treatment by 
Regions Party representatives who used their deputies' status 
to get access to the cargo and to the compound where the 
Marines are billeted was unacceptable.  These problems had to 
stop immediately.  Looking ahead, the USG wanted to implement 
the agreed joint exercise and recognized that the current 
problems' source was not the government's bad intentions, but 
the still uncleared cargo, impeded movement of the resevists, 
and time constraints meant that we would soon have to make a 
decision on the feasibility of continuing to try to go 
forward.  Washington would decide next steps, but it was 
important that the GOU ensure the safety and well-being of 
the Marines.  A group of reservists meant to replace the 
current group would very likely not be sent if the situation 
were not resolved satisfactorily soon. 

14. (C) Khandohiy apologized for the situation, noted that 
pure politics were to blame, promised to work cooperatively 
to find a way forward, and said actions had been taken to 
improve the situation.  For example, orders had been given 
not to open the cargo containers without proper supervision 
and Russian MP Zatulin had been deported.  Unidentified 
others would likely be deported today.  He noted the central 
government's difficulties included the fact that "60% of 
local police had refused to comply with central authorities' 
orders" in connection with this incident.  Khandohiy 
recognized that a cancellation of the planned exercise would 
be a political setback for the government.  Separately, 
Horbulin told Charge he had spoken with the Feodosiya mayor 
and the Chairman of the Crimean Assembly and emphasized their 
personal reponsibility for the U.S. servicemembers' safety. 
He added that security at the Feodosiya facility would be 
augmented to ensure proper security internally and externally. 

Revenge? 
-------- 

15. (C) The latest controversy comes 15 months after an 
earlier military exercise gone awry (refs B and C) involving 
the Russian military.  On March 23, 2005, a large Russian 
amphibious vessel of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Nikolai 
Filchenkov, entered Ukrainian territorial waters and landed 
marines and vehicles from the Black Sea Fleet's 382nd Marine 
Battalion based out of Temryuk, Russia, at the Opuk military 
training range near Fedosiya.  A total of 142 marines and 28 
vehicles and pieces of equipment were unloaded before 
Ukrainian Navy protests forced the Russian vessel to reload 
the marines and vehicles.  The ship departed Ukrainian waters 
early March 24 en route to Novorossiysk, Russia.  Deputy 
Defense Minister Polyakov told us then that the 1997 
Ukrainian-Russian agreement on the division of the Black Sea 
Fleet gave the Russians control of the training facility in 
question.  However, after the October 2001 tragic downing of 
a Russian TU-154 passsenger aircraft, shot down by a 
Ukrainian antiaircraft missile launched from the same Opuk 
training range, the Ukrainian government had suspended 
Russian military access to the site pending a new bilateral 
agreement spelling out precise procedures for its use.  The 
incident occurred four days after Russian President Putin's 
relatively relaxed and successful visit to Kiev. 

Comment 
------- 

16. (C) The central government was quick to understand and 
agree with our concerns, but adequate action is still 
lacking.  While security concerns have been addressed, the 
GOU still has not taken the necessary steps to allow the 
joint exercise preparations to go forward.  Primarily the 
problems are continued impaired mobility of our military 
personnel and cargo that continues to sit on the docks 
uncleared by Customs.  Still, this problem is one of 
effectiveness, not intent.  The malicious intent that is 

KIEV 00002190  005 OF 005 

ultimately responsible for this ongoing incident is entirely 
on the side of the political forces that have not wanted to 
see Yushchenko's government succeed since the pro-democracy 
forces emerged victorious from the late 2004 Orange 
Revolution with the win in the free and fair presidential 
election of December 2004. 

17. (C) The opposition Party of Regions, Communists, Vitrenko 
bloc elements, Proriv activists and their Russian backers (in 
some cases financiers, it is alleged) do not wish to see the 
Yushchenko-led government pull off a joint military exercise 
in Ukraine's most pro-Russian region, Crimea.  Conversely, a 
positive resolution to this ongoing problem is important to 
the GOU to deny its opponents a political victory and to 
maintain its reputation as a reliable partner in joint 
military exercises.  Barring the development of serious 
security concerns, we should not give the anti-reform, 
anti-Euro-Atlantic inte
gration forces a victory by pulling 
out early.  Rather we should continue to work with the 
central government to accomplish the joint exercise goals or 
other constructive and publicly visible work that is possible 
as a sign of the benefits of such cooperation. 

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

Wikileaks

Advertisements

From → CONFIDENTIAL

Leave a Comment

Post tour comment here

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: