Today, on December 8, a discussion took place in the Ministry of Defence between the experts of the Latvian and Russian Ministries of Defence regarding measures to promote trust and security.
In order to promote mutual openness and trust in military matters, the Latvian side suggested to conduct one additional arms control assessment visit and one inspection in the border regions of Latvia and Russia in addition to existing conditions in the area of arms control arising from the Vienna Document of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), thus inviting Russia to show their willingness for greater transparency of military activities not only in words, but in deeds as well.
In the course of discussion the sides exchanged opinions on security situation in the border area. Latvian side emphasised that Russia's military activities including large-scale military exercises, development of military infrastructure and formation of new military units, causes concern regarding intentions and long-term ambitions of Russia in the region. Latvian side also highlighted that most of the abilities developed by Russia and large-scale exercises near the border of Latvia exhibit an offensive and not defensive character.
Considering unfriendly and at times hostile rhetoric regarding Latvia, it necessitates Latvia to seek additional security guarantees and to expand cooperation with the allies in response to the military activities implemented by Russia. Latvia develops self-defence abilities and strengthens cooperation with allies, including ensuring the presence of the allied forces in the region, in order to face the challenges created by the military activities of Russia.
Considering the activities within the last years, during the meeting the Latvian side asked to explain the reasons for the scale of the current military activities and offered ways for decreasing the tension in relationships.
Negotiations regarding measures to facilitate trust and security are in line with Latvian national security interests in terms of maintaining a constructive dialogue with Russia without renewal of the military cooperation.
Already in April of this year, the Minister of Defence Raimonds Bergmanis in meeting with the Ambassador of Russia to Latvia Alexander Veshnyakov invited the Russian side to ensure greater transparency of military activities near the Latvian borders. The minister also confirmed the necessity to maintain a mutual dialogue with Russia to promote trust and security in the region.
As previously reported, in August of this year letters were received from the Attache of Russia in Latvia, wherein Russia invited Latvia to security consultations in Moscow to discuss further military cooperation at the expert level.
Ministry of Defence sent a response letter to the Military Attache in Latvia, inviting the representatives of Russian Ministry of Defence to an expert-level meeting in Riga in order to discuss measures promoting trust and security between both countries in the border area.
Ministry of Defence reminds that formal relations between NATO and Russia were suspended in spring 2014 due to annexation of Crimea conducted by Russia and due to aggression in Eastern Ukraine. Current NATO policy towards Russia is based on prevention and on maintaining a political dialogue. Ministry of Defence highlights that already since 2003 it has offered Russia to agree on additional bilateral agreement on matters of trust and security, but Russia constantly has refused the offer this far.
Information prepared by:
Senior Rapporteur of Media Relations Section,
Military Public Relations Department of Ministry of Defence