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08KYIV1557, UKRAINE: IMPACT OF GEORGIA CRISIS ON DOMESTIC

August 12, 2008

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08KYIV1557 2008-08-12 15:29 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

TED4661
ACTION EUR-00   

INFO  LOG-00   EEB-00   AID-00   AMAD-00  CIAE-00  INL-00   DNI-00   
      DODE-00  DOTE-00  PDI-00   DS-00    DHSE-00  FAAE-00  FBIE-00  
      VCI-00   H-00     TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    LAB-01   L-00     
      MOFM-00  MOF-00   M-00     VCIE-00  NSAE-00  ISN-00   NIMA-00  
      GIWI-00  ISNE-00  DOHS-00  FMPC-00  SP-00    IRM-00   SSO-00   
      SS-00    NCTC-00  DSCC-00  PRM-00   DRL-00   SCA-00   CARC-00  
      NFAT-00  SAS-00   FA-00    SWCI-00    /001W
                  ------------------C59269  121534Z /38    
P 121529Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6189
INFO CIS COLLECTIVE
NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 001557 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/15/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR RS UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: IMPACT OF GEORGIA CRISIS ON DOMESTIC 
POLITICS 
 
REF: KYIV 1550 

 
To:       SECSTATE WASHDC - PRIORITY 
 
Action:   EUR 
 
From:     AMEMBASSY KYIV (KYIV 1557 - PRIORITY) 
 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR RS UP
 
Captions: None 
 
Subject:  UKRAINE: IMPACT OF GEORGIA CRISIS ON DOMESTIC POLITICS 
 
Ref:      KYIV 1550 
_____________________________________________ ____________________ 
 
Classified By: Acting PolCouns Robert Scott for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary and Comment.  Events in Georgia have triggered 
front page charges/countercharges between Moscow and Kyiv -- 
including dueling MFA statements on Russian deployment of its 
Black Sea Fleet (BSF) off the Georgian coast and Russian 
attacks on Ukrainian arms sales to Tbilisi.  While DFM 
Yeliseyev on August 11 provided Post a readout of GOU actions 
and analysis in the international arena (refel), the crisis 
has also impacted Ukrainian domestic politics.  Much of the 
domestic focus has been on Crimea and the basing of the BSF 
in Sevastopol. There have been calls from Our Ukraine MPs to 
identify the level/number of Russian passport issuances for 
Crimean residents to "avoid a repeat of the Georgia 
scenario," while Party of Regions and Communist MPs have 
placed varying degrees of blame on the GOU for its sale of 
arms to Georgia.  Expressions of support for Georgia among 
Ukraine's population, such as protests in front of Russia's 
embassy and Lviv consulate, have been accompanied by signals 
of support/solidarity for South Ossetia from the Mayor of 
Kharkiv and some Crimean residents.  Political analysts are 
beginning to assess the impact of the Georgia crisis on 
Ukraine's NATO/MAP aspirations, with initial assessments 
trending towards events in Georgia strengthening Ukraine's 
argument for MAP and increasing the possibility of a positive 
outcome at the December NATO Ministerial.  Post will focus on 
developments in Crimea in the run-up to the expected return 
of BSF units -- and anticipated increased frictions between 
Kyiv and Moscow regarding control/transparency of BSF basing. 
 End Summary and Comment. 
 
Battling BSF Statements 
----------------------- 
 
2. (U) The issue of BSF basing came to center stage with an 
August 10 exchange of statements by the Russian and Ukrainian 
MFAs.  The Ukrainian statement noted that the BSF deployment 
of the Georgian coast would, in effect, entangle Ukraine in 
an armed conflict -- and posited that Ukraine "reserved the 
right" under international and Ukrainian law to bar entry 
into Sevastopol of BSF ships returning from actions off the 
coast of Georgia.  It also expressed concern about Russia's 
continued delays in negotiating the status of the BSF 
stationed in Ukraine in regard to its deployment during 
crisis and its role in regional conflicts. 
 
3. (C) Moscow's rebuttal noted that Russia was "puzzled" by 
the tone and content of Ukraine's statements concerning the 
BSF, and questioned why Ukraine has supplied arms to Georgia 
if it was concerned about being drawn into an armed conflict. 
 Further, it stated that it was acting within the provisions 
of the 1997 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and 
Partnership between Russia and Ukraine as well as the 1997 
agreement on the status of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. 
(Embassy note: the 1997 agreement on BSF basing only requires 
Russian notification of departure and does not include any 
provisions limiting the scope of action. DFM Yeliseyev 
admitted this was the case during an August 11 meeting 
(reftel.) End Note.) The statement concluded that "the main 
goals of the Black Sea Fleet's mission in the coastal waters 
of Abkhazia is to protect Russian citizens residing in the 
region, provide assistance for the Russian peacekeeping units 
in case of an armed attack, and to provide humanitarian 
relief for the civilian population in the conflict zone. 
 
4.  (U) Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian 
Federation Grigoriy Karasin said that he would lead talks 
concerning the return of the Russian BSF to Ukraine. 
Commenting on the issue, he said, "Kyiv knows our position on 
the Ukrainian government's previously released statements, 
which do not promote the strengthening of close relations 
between our two countries".  Vice Speaker of the State Duma 
and member of the Fair Russia block, Aleksander Babakov, who 
is the parliament's acting liaison with the Ukrainian 
government, told reporters that Ukraine's statement about th
e 
possibility of closing the port of Sevastopol to the 
returning BSF ships was "hasty and ill conceived". 
 
Internal Political Disputes Over Weapons Sales to Georgia, BSF 
--------------------------------------------- ----------------- 
 
5.  (SBU) The Communists and the Party of Regions both 
weighed in and criticized Ukaine's provisions of arms to 
Tbilisi, with Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko laying 
the blame for the conflict squarely on Saakashvili and 
calling for a criminal investigation into what he called 
illegal Ukrainian arms sales to Georgia -- which he claimed 
were undertaken with the oversight of the USG.  A statement 
on the PoR's website criticized Yushchenko for supporting 
Georgia and predicted it would result in a worsening of 
ethnic tensions in Crimea.  PoR Spokesperson Hanna Herman did 
 
 
not criticize Yushchenko outright, but accused the Ministry 
of Foreign Affairs of exacerbating regional tensions through 
arms sales to Georgia and called on Rada deputies to initiate 
an investigation into the Ministry over the matter.  PoR MP 
Yuriy Boyko believes Ukraine is "partially responsible" for 
the events in Georgia because of its arms shipments to the 
country.  Rada Speaker Yatsenyuk gave a statement from 
Crimea, saying he would put the issue of Ukraine-Georgia 
relations on the new session's agenda if the conflict in 
South Ossetia is not resolved before the Rada reopens on 
September 2. 
 
6.  (U) Ukrainian arms sales to Georgia have garnered press 
attention, with August 12 media reports focusing on data from 
the UN Register of Conventional Arms Sales, according to 
which Ukraine was the main supplier of weapons to Georgia in 
2007.  The report listed weapons systems sold by Ukraine, 
including 74 tanks, six armored vehicles, nine large caliber 
artillery systems, 10,800 rocket systems, and 28,800 small 
arms.  The report notes that the 2007 levels of exports were 
significantly higher than in 2006. 
 
7. (U) Oles Doniy, an MP for the Our-Ukraine-People's Self 
Defense (OU-PSD) faction, told reporters that the South 
Ossetia-Georgia scenario may well be repeated in Crimea, 
where "chauvinistic elements" are currently "questioning the 
independence of Georgia and Moldova and allowing support for 
revanchist feelings."  Doniy stressed the need for Ukraine to 
support its neighbors' territorial integrity and urged all 
Ukrainian political forces to unite in supporting the 
agreement governing the BSF departure from Sevastopol in 
2017.  OUS-PSD MP Olga Herasyuk stated that she did not 
exclude that Russia would use the same "pretext" of defending 
its citizens in Crimea as it had in South Osettia, where it 
had issued large numbers of Russian passports to Ossetian 
residents.  She claimed that Russia was issuing the same type 
of passports in Crimea, and proposed a survey of Crimean 
residents to find out who has dual citizenship. 
 
Protests at Russian Missions, NGOs urge Peaceful Resolution 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
 
8.  (U) Ukrainian media sources reported an estimated 100-200 
protesters gathered at the Russian Embassy in Kyiv and 
separately at the Russian Consulate in Lviv on August 11 to 
protest Russian military operations in Georgia.   According 
to the reports, the protesters were from the local Georgian 
communities, Ukrainian nationalist groups known for their 
anti-Russian views, and various NGOs.  On the evening of 
August 11, EmbOff saw two SUV's with large Georgian and 
Ukrainian flags conspicuously cruising along one of Kyiv's 
main streets, which drew cheers of support from some 
onlookers. 
 
9.  (U) The Maidan Alliance, a group of Ukrainian NGOs 
supporting democratic values and greater independence from 
Russian influence, appealed on its website to the 
international community to renounce what it called "Russian 
aggression in Georgia" and to not passively stand by as 
Russia first subjugated Georgia and eventually Moldova 
(Transdnistria) and Ukraine (Crimea).  The Kharkiv Human 
Rights Group on its website called for an immediate end to 
the conflict in Georgia.  The statement, released on August 
8, noted that military conflicts in the Caucuses, notably 
Russian military operations in Chechnya in 1994 and 1999, 
were fraught with mistakes and criminal actions justified by 
Russia as necessary to maintain constitutional order.  The 
NGO urged Georgia, as an OSCE member, to also seek peaceful 
means to resolve the conflict. 
 
10. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
PETTIT

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