09ASTANA478, KAZAKHSTAN: “MOSCOW WANTS YOU TO FAIL IN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA478 2009-03-17 08:04 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO1454
PP RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHNP RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTA #0478/01 0760804
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 170804Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4928
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY 1369
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0746
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 0433
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 1449
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY 0931
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY 0844
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 2541
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2211

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000478 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, S/SRAP, EUR/RUS, NEA/IR 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/17/2029 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PROP MARR IR RS AF KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN:  "MOSCOW WANTS YOU TO FAIL IN 
AFGHANISTAN" 
 
REF: A. ASTANA 0426 
     B. ASTANA 0376 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland:  1.4 (B), (D) 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  A Kazakhstani foreign-policy insider told 
the Ambassador Moscow strongly objects to Kazakhstan playing 
any kind of military role in Afghanistan, but at the same 
time Astana is striving to balance its interests and find the 
best way to be helpful in Afghanistan.  He said Kazakhstan 
has little real influence with Iran, but is encouraged the 
United States seems committed to real dialog with Tehran.  He 
revealed Iran's President Ahmadinejad will visit Astana on 
April 6.  END SUMMARY. 
 
"MOSCOW WANTS YOU TO FAIL IN AFGHANISTAN" 
 
2.  (C) At the March 16 reception in honor of the 10th 
anniversary of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic's 
accession to NATO, Foreign Ministry Director for Asia and 
Africa Rustam Kurmanguzhin pulled aside the Ambassador for a 
long conversation.  He said that Foreign Minister Marat 
Tazhin was currently in Moscow, both to consult with Russian 
authorities about possible roles Kazakhstan would like to 
play in Afghanistan and to urge Moscow to be constructive and 
not react reflexively against the United States.  He 
emphasized that Tazhin was acting in Kazakhstan's best 
interests and was playing favorites for no one.  When the 
Ambassador noted the coincidence of FM Tazhin in Moscow and 
Deputy Minister of Defense General Bulat Sembinov in 
Washington, Kurmanguzhin replied, "It's no coincidence. 
There are very strong forces in Moscow that want you to fail 
in Afghanistan, believing you will then lose interest in 
Central Asia.  President Nazarbayev sent Tazhin to Moscow to 
keep all doors open." 
 
3.  (C) Kurmanguzhin suggested it might, in the end, be 
impossible for Kazakhstan to send troops, even 
non-combatants, to Afghanistan to support the International 
Security Assistance Force (ref A), because of Moscow's 
vehement objection that it has already made perfectly clear 
to Astana, but there could be other opportunities for 
Kazakhstan to play a helpful role.  He suggested the United 
States could, for example, offer to send relatively small 
numbers of Afghans -- "less than hundreds, or else we will 
lose track of them" -- to Kazakhstan for specialized joint 
U.S.-Kazakhstani training.  "Although the United States would 
have to pay for it, we are certain we could do that without 
'special permission.'" 
 
4.  (C) The Ambassador emphasized to Kurmanguzhin that the 
United States has not yet finished its comprehensive policy 
reviews, but we clearly see Kazakhstan as a responsible 
international player in general, and an increasingly key 
player in the region, including for Afghanistan (ref B).  We 
respect Kazakhstan's special relationships with its other 
partners, but at the same time we expect Kazakhstan to act in 
its own best national interests, to the fullest extent 
possible.  Kurmanguzhin responded, "Believe me, we will do 
everything we can, but there are certain red lines from 
Moscow we cannot cross, and it could well be that our troops 
in Afghanistan is one of those red lines, although that is 
not yet a final decision.  The question is still open, even 
if Moscow has made its views clear to us.  Even so, 'the 
struggle continues,' and we want to find every possible way 
to be helpful." 
 
AHMEDINEJAD TO VISIT ASTANA 
 
5.  (C) The Ambassador asked what Kazakhstan is thinking 
about Iran in the region, specifically in relation to 
Afghanistan.  Kurmanguzhin replied he doubted Astana could 
have much influence with Tehran.  He said, "We try to talk 
reason to them, but they toss their heads and ignore us."  He 
recounted that President Nazarbayev had spent several hours 
 
ASTANA 00000478  002 OF 002 
 
 
talking sense to the "highest authorities" in Tehran, but 
came away feeling he had been "talking to a brick wall." 
Kurmanguzhin revealed President Ahmadinejad will visit Astana 
on April 6.  He added, "We don't know the details about what 
you are doing, but we are encouraged that Washington seems 
serious about finding way to engage with Tehran.  That is an 
essential first step to bring Tehran back into the family of 
responsible states.  Russia can't do it because of its 
compromised interests.
 Only the United States can.  Simply 
put, we probably can't do much; but, even so, we want to be 
helpful." 
 
 
"IT IS NOW BETTER NOT TO BE FRIENDS WITH WASHINGTON" 
 
6.  (U) CONTEXT:  The Russian mass media, which dominate 
Central Asia's information space, continue their campaign to 
limit U.S. influence in Central Asia.  On March 13, RIA 
Novosti posted an article by Dmitry Kosyrev headlined, "Will 
Obama Repeat Bush's Mistakes in Central Asia?"  Although 
attempting to be even-handed, Kosyrev perpetuates Moscow's 
standard black propaganda:  "...The Bush administration 
sincerely believed that 'spreading democracy' to Afghanistan 
would win the war, that this was the true objective and 
method of waging the war.  This turned potential allies into 
enemies, because the Central Asian states think the U.S. 
started the Afghan war to change the regional regimes into 
local analogues of Georgia's Saakashvili and Ukraine's 
Yushchenko, and that it began with Afghan President Hamid 
Karzai.  Iran, China and Russia think the war could be 
Washington's attempt to reduce their influence in Central 
Asia to zero....  (T)he U.S. engineered a 'color revolution' 
in Kyrgyzstan in 2005 by financing a host of its NGOs 
there....  Kyrgyzstan closed the (Manas) base because of the 
disastrous U.S. policy in Central Asia, which created a 
situation in which it is now better not to be friends with 
Washington."  (COMMENT:  If this is what appears in public, 
it would be interesting to know what Moscow says behind 
closed doors to Central Asian officials like Foreign Minister 
Tazhin.  END COMMENT.) 
 
7.  (C) COMMENT:  Kurmanguzhin said he was previously a 
special assistant to former Deputy Foreign Minister (now 
Presidential Foreign Policy Adviser) Khairat Sarybay, when 
Sarybay was responsible in the MFA for Europe and the 
Americas.  He said that he and Sarybay were the two principal 
drafters of Kazakhstan's "Path to Europe" policy, and added, 
with evident pride, President Nazarbayev had just given him a 
high award for the achievement.  German Ambassador Reiner 
Schlageter told the Ambassador Kurmanguzhin is a "pro-Western 
intellectual voice in Kazakhstan's foreign-policy 
establishment.  He seldom emerges above the radar, but when 
he does it's for a specific purpose."  We do not know if 
Kurmanguzhin acted independently or was told to communicate 
to us Kazakhstan's difficult position vis-a-vis Russia.  If 
Kurmanguzhin's message was accurate, Astana wants to find 
ways to be helpful in Afghanistan even while fending off 
Moscow's alleged demands not to help the United States.  END 
COMMENT. 
HOAGLAND

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