In US talks, Russian military still guarded: WikiLeaks

2nd December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russian military leaders remain guarded in talks with their US counterparts and defense cooperation has not progressed much since the end of the Cold War, according to a US document posted by WikiLeaks.

In a leaked diplomatic cable written last year from the US embassy in Moscow, defense ties between the two countries are described as useful but hampered by a "lack of Russian transparency and reciprocity."

The Russian government's defense ministry "has not changed its modus operandi for information exchange nor routine dialoguing since the end of the Cold War," said the cable, one of hundreds of thousands secret documents published by the WikiLeaks website this week.

The cable said "Russian delegations routinely refuse to share their briefing materials with us, even when presented with formal requests for these materials."

Russian defense ministry representatives "are closely monitored by their Military Intelligence (GRU) handlers, and are loathe to engage in any dialogues outside of tightly controlled statements recited from prepared texts," it said.

Although the US military often invites Russian defense delegations to visit various bases, American representatives are "rarely" granted visits beyond conference centers at Russia's defense ministry, it said.

Gaining access to Russian defense-related academic institutions was "particularly problematic," the cable said.

While the United States offered information last year to Russia about US training efforts in Georgia, Moscow provided no information about exercises in Belarus and Kazakhstan that featured about 12,000 Russian troops, it said.

The document was among a flood of secret US files released in recent days by WikiLeaks that have included harsh assessments of Russia's government.

One cable from February of this year had Defense Secretary Robert Gates observing that "Russian democracy has disappeared." Others have US diplomats referring to Russia as a "virtual mafia state" and saying that President Dmitry Medvedev plays "Robin" to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's "Batman."

Putin has fired back, saying Gates was "deeply misled" in his assessment and warning US officials not to "interfere" in Russia's internal politics.

© 2010 AFP

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