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09KYIV596, UKRAINE’S VIEW OF THE TRANSNISTRIA CONFLICT

April 3, 2009

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KYIV596 2009-04-03 12:51 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO8912
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #0596/01 0931251
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 031251Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7578
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KYIV 000596 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/03/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PBTS UP MD RU EU
SUBJECT: UKRAINE'S VIEW OF THE TRANSNISTRIA CONFLICT 
 
REF: CHISINAU 0081 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William B. Taylor, Reason 1.4 (b and d) 
 
 Summary 
----------- 
1.  (C) A series of calls on Ukrainian officials to discuss 
Ukrainian views of Transnistria issues and the "5 2" process, 
particularly in light of the March 18 joint statement signed 
by the parties of the Russia-sponsored "2 1" process 
(Moldova, Russia, Transnistria), revealed Ukrainian concerns 
about how to protect national interests in the face of 
questionable motivations of other participants.  While 
interlocutors were cynical about Russian intentions in the 
region and what lies behind the creation of the high-profile 
"2 1" parallel discussion forum, they stressed that Ukraine 
believes "5 2" can move forward.  End Summary. 
 
Objectives for Settlement of the Transnistria Conflict 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
2.  (C) According to Viktor Kryshanivskyi, Special 
Representative of Ukraine for Transnistrian Settlement, who 
represents Ukraine in the 5 2 talks, Ukraine remains fully 
committed to the objectives of territorial integrity for 
Moldova, as laid out in the "Yushchenko Plan".  This includes 
preserving the territorial integrity of Moldova while 
securing the largest possible autonomy for Transnistria, 
within Moldova.  First Deputy Secretary of the National 
Security and Defense Council Havrysh echoed this policy to us 
recently, noting that Ukraine stands behind the Yushchenko 
Plan as the best possible approach to resolving the conflict. 
  Kryshanivskyi stressed that Ukraine would "never do 
anything to damage the territorial integrity of Moldova". 
 
3.  (C) Ukraine strongly believes that any agreements reached 
must include the participation of all "5 2" partners. 
According to Kryzhanivskyi, while Ukraine does not object in 
principle to "consultations" taking place in the "1 2" 
format, these cannot be more than consultations.  Of 
particular importance to Ukraine's interests is that 
discussions on border demarcation remain firmly anchored in 
the 5 2 process.  He said that Ukraine believes it would be 
useful to invoke the Istanbul commitments to prompt the 
demilitarization of Transnistria. 
 
Other Ukrainian Interests 
------------------------ 
4.  (C) Ihor Dolgov, until recently Chief of the Main Service 
for Foreign Policy at the Presidential Secretariat (and also 
formerly Special Representative for Transnistria), claimed 
that there are 40,000 Ukrainians in Transnistria, and a 
number of Ukrainian equities affected by the conflict 
resolution process, including property claims and energy 
security issues. 
 
5.  (C) Havrysh raised questions about the worsening economy 
in Transnistria, noting that Moscow is encouraging greater 
Russian investment in Transnistria and also encouraging 
Transnistrians to take Russian citizenship - a persuasive 
offer that conveys economic and intangible benefits such as 
freedom of movement and educational opportunities that do not 
exist for many Transnistrians.  According to Kryzhanivskyi, 
the government of Ukraine tries to assist Ukrainians in 
Transnistria through outreach programs and support for 
education, but noted that Ukraine takes a fairly low profile 
approach that will not trespass on Chisinau's sovereignty. 
 
Ukraine's view of the situation on the ground 
-------------------------------------------- 
6.  (C) At the MFA, Kryshanivskyi, who took up his duties in 
September 2008, said frankly that his first impression was 
that both sides are happy with the status quo, and there is a 
profound lack of trust between them.  He could see no 
eagerness for flexibility on the Transnistrian side, and 
noted that Transnistrians, and in particular, Transnistrian 
officials, have been living relatively comfortably in a 
quasi-state; an entire generation has now grown up with no 
concept of a unified Moldova.  With every year, he said, the 
possibility of reuniting becomes more distant.  His 
commentary was echoed by Dolgov, who noted that Tiraspol "has 
not been inconvenienced by its positions." 
 
7.  (C) At the same time, Transnistria also is obviously 
growing more dependent on Moscow, said Kryshanivskyi, 
highlighting Transnistria's need for financing and 
legitimization.  Both he and Havrysh noted that Transnistria 
increasingly insists on being treated as a sovereign country 
in discussions, seeking parity even in working groups and 
commissions.  Havrysh opined that discussions on demarcation 
could be wrapped up quickly, for example, if parity in 
discussions were an option. 
 
 
KYIV 00000596  002 OF 003 
 
 
Future of 5 2 
------------- 
8.  (C) Regretting that Moscow's 1 2 approach allows it an 
opportunity to create a "political regency" by playing on the 
two sides' desire for Russian support and recognition, 
Havrysh noted that a real assessment of the Moldovan position 
won't be possible
 until after the April elections, as 
(Moldovan President) Voronin seeks to curry favor with Moscow 
as a campaign tactic. 
 
9.  (C) After elections, Havrysh commented, there should be a 
strong push from the U.S., EU, and Ukraine for 5 2 talks, and 
U.S. and EU foreign policy leadership in maintaining the 5 2 
format will be crucial to any progress on Transnistria.  At 
the MFA, Kryshanivskyi said the process needs a strong dose 
of leadership - if it will be from the OSCE, then the OSCE 
should step up.  Kryshanivskyi recommended a clear vision be 
presented of an agenda for 5 2 discussions for the year, and 
a specific meeting schedule tabled. The April meeting in 
Vienna would be the time to achieve such progress, he noted. 
While not providing a specific vision, Kryshanivskyi alluded 
that the joint statement signed by the 1 2 group in Moscow on 
March 18 could be used as a hook for bringing the parties 
back to the 5 2 process. He said that he will accept an offer 
by Russian Transnistria Conflict Negotiator Nestarushkin to 
visit Moscow for further consultations in mid or late April. 
 
10.  (C) Kryshanivskyi noted some concerns, also raised by 
Havrysh at the NSDC, about the intentions of the EU and 
Special Representative for Moldova Kalman Mizsei.  Based on 
confidential papers the MFA had seen and Mizsei's frequent 
trips to Moscow (without reciprocal visits to Ukraine, for 
example), he confided an emerging GoU concern that the EU is 
working behind the scenes with Moscow to neutralize both 
Ukrainian and U.S. roles in the discussions, hoping to find 
common EU-Russian ground and present it as a fait accompli. 
Meeting again after the Moscow 2 1 joint statement, 
Kryshanivskyi later attempted to downplay these concerns and 
said the Europeans had caught wind of Ukrainian suspicions 
and had been making overtures to reduce them. 
 
Demarcation and Demilitarization 
-------------------------------- 
11.  (C) According to Kryshanivskyi, the demarcation of the 
Ukrainian-Moldovan border is complete except for the 
Transnistrian portion, some 900 kilometers.  In the past, 
Ukraine has raised its concerns about smuggling activity 
along this border, however, none of our interlocutors raised 
illicit trading as their main concern.  According to 
Kryshanivskyi, cooperation with both the EU (through the 
EUBAM (EU Border Assistance and Monitoring Project) and the 
U.S. has been effective in reducing opportunities for 
smuggling, and has provided a less-politicized venue where 
Moldovan, Transnistrian, and EU member states with an 
interest (such as Romania), can come together at the experts 
level to discuss common interests. 
 
12.  (C) However, demarcation remains a central Ukrainian 
concern according to all of our interlocutors, each of whom 
shared misgivings about the presence of Russian troops along 
an un-demarcated border -- a common problem along most of 
Ukraine's borders, and one that Havrysh said could lead to 
conflict. 
 
13.  (C) Not surprisingly, in our meetings there was 
unanimous Ukrainian support for full demilitarization of 
Transnistria, and opposition to any Russian base in 
Moldova/Transnistria.  Both NSDC and MFA flagged a rumor that 
Russia plans to increase its troop presence in Transnistria, 
and Kryshanivskyi told us he had raised the issue with de 
facto president Smirnov in Tiraspol, letting him know that 
Ukraine would "never allow" the transit of Russian troops 
through Ukraine for this purpose.  Ukraine hopes to raise CFE 
Istanbul commitments as a hook to prevent further increases, 
and move decisively toward demilitarization. 
 
Russia 
------ 
14.  (C) Ukrainian concerns about Russian intentions in the 
conflict, in the region, and toward Ukraine underlie most of 
our discussions on Transnistria, and tend to surface quickly. 
 At MFA, Kryshanivskyi said plainly that Russia has no 
interest in solving the conflict, that Russia intends to 
increase its troop presence in Transnistria, and that it is 
using funding, investment, and passport issuance as leverage 
there.  Furthermore, Russia was also using financial and 
political support for Voronin as leverage in Moldova, and the 
1 2 format of discussions meant that Russia was essentially 
free to make deals with the two sides to further its 
"political regency" objective. 
 
15.  (C)  At the same time, Kryshanivskyi was inclined to 
 
KYIV 00000596  003 OF 003 
 
 
seek a way to use the March 18 2 1 agreement as a tool for 
moving 5 2 forward; in a cynical aside, he said "we all knew 
they (Russia, Transnistria, and Moldova) were up to 
something, and were working on some sort of agreement." 
Nesterushkin voluntarily visited Kyiv on March 23 to provide 
a readout for Ukraine on the content of the agreement and the 
discussions the week before in Russia.  Kryshanivskyi said 
his talks with Nesterushkin had gone well, and although 
Ukraine's larger concerns remained, it would be important to 
see the OSCE use the opportunity in early April to build on 
the 1 2 agreement. He had no immediate comment on whether the 
agreement gives Russia all it needs to maintain its troops 
indefinitely in the region. 
 
16.  (C) At the NSDC, we heard that any solution has to be in 
Moscow's interest and that "looking good is not their 
(Moscow's) concern."  Furthermore, Russia was working to 
expand diplomatic and commercial ties in Transnistria and 
Moldova to put both under Russian economic control and 
compromise their political positions.  Russian FM (and, 
according to Havrysh, "chief ideologue") Lavrov's visit to 
Chisinau on the eve of presidential elections was not 
coincidental or insignificant. 
 
17.   (C) After Georgia, Havrysh said, Russia knows no one 
will stop them in using force, and that force is the most 
expedient means of achieving political goals.  He noted that 
Moscow is putting finishing touches on its new military 
doctrine, and that settling regional conflicts through use of 
force is included; he also noted an increase in Russian 
assertions that it must protect the security of its citizens 
abroad. 
 
18.  (C) Havrysh claimed Ukraine has intelligence showing 
that Russia was relocating forces towards its borders with 
Ukraine, including moving Russian troops in Transnistria to 
the Ukrainian border; Russia also recently conducted 
high-profile war games with Belarus in which trans-border 
actions were not ruled out.  At the Presidential Secretariat, 
Dolgov told us that Russia is seeking to project its power, 
and there is a direct connection to its conduct in the 
Caucasus.  "There is no punishment, so why not?" he asked 
rhetorically. 
 
Comment 
------- 
19. (C)  For Ukrainian officials, Transnistria is viewed from 
a purely Ukrainian perspective that seems motivated more by 
de
ep suspicions of Russia's strategic intentions, than by 
concern for the potential for resumed conflict between 
Moldova and Transnistria.  The hope of using the Istanbul 
commitments as a hook to influence Russia's approach to the 
conflict is strange, given that Russia has withdrawn from 
CFE. Ukraine is counting on the U.S. and EU to provide firm 
leadership in resuming 5 2 talks, with the hope of tempering, 
if not thwarting, what Kyiv sees as an obvious Russian play 
to regain political, military, and economic hegemony in the 
region. 
TAYLOR

Wikileaks

From → CONFIDENTIAL

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