Nov 29, 2010
When Defense Secretary Robert Gates sat down with French Minister of Defense Herve Morin Feb. 8 in Paris, he had a harsh assessment of the Russian government and some severe differences with his French counterpart on several issues of international security.
“SecDef (Gates) observed that Russian democracy has disappeared and the government was an oligarchy run by the security services,” read a cable about the meeting  classified by Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow and leaked to the self described whistleblower website WikiLeaks. The website posted Sunday just over 200  of the over 250,000 sensitive State Department documents it claims to have in its possession.
“President [Dmitry] Medvedev has a more pragmatic vision for Russia than [Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin, but there has been little real change,” Gates told Morin, according to the cable.
Gates was pressing Morin to rethink the French sale  of the amphibious assault ship the Mistral to Russia, a sale that several NATO member countries and the country of Georgia loudly protested around the time of the meeting. The cable details how strongly Gates pressed the French on the issue and how strongly he was rebuffed.