Dispatches sent by embassy workers often contain detailed accounts of private conversations with local politicians, businesspeople, journalists, dissidents, academics and public figures. The anticipated blizzard of dispatches from the US Embassy in Moscow to Washington is likely to publicly reveal the raw workings of US diplomacy on the ground and its range of contacts within Russian society. It may also detail the process by which the State Department forms its judgments about the Kremlin and its policies.
Some sensitive topics may include corruption among Russia's top politicians, details of political infighting, deeply critical views expressed to US diplomats by Russians in the opposition, as well as unflattering portraits of Kremlin leaders and their habits.
Russian diplomats contacted Friday said they don't expect the contents to be sensational or politically damaging to the Kremlin, but suggest that the breach of confidentiality might do untold damage to future US-Russian relations.
"As a diplomatic researcher, I must say that I'm really curious to see this material," says Yevgeny Bazhanov, deputy rector of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic Academy, which trains Russian diplomats.
"But it will undoubtedly hurt the relationship. It's not that we'll find out that our American colleagues were critical of us in their dispatches – we know that already – but that all these raw materials, including frank private conversations, will spill into the open. How can we talk candidly with our American colleagues in future if we don't know who's going to read it tomorrow?"
Wikileaks previous releases of massive troves of secret US documents from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were intensively covered in the Western media, and got front-page attention in Russia as well.