Russia’s Defence Ministry declines Latvian OSCE inspection and publishes false statements about arrival of Latvian inspectors to its neighbouring country
Latvian defence sector arms control officers were scheduled to pay arms control visit to Russia within the framework of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe on 24-29 January, however, inspection was officially declined on 21 January. Meanwhile, Russia’s Defence Ministry has also issued a false statement on its webpage about the arrival of four Latvian inspectors on 24 January.
‘Given the massive military build-up of Russian forces near Ukrainian border, and ferocious denial of any intentions to attack the country, such actions have raised serious concerns. Declining inspection because of Covid-19 security protocols is a poor excuse and it raises strong suspicions that Russia wants to hide something by not disclosing the actual scope and intent of its military movements as required by OSCE cooperation framework,’ Defence Minister Artis Pabriks stressed.
Latvian arms control officers were planning to go to Bryansk and Smolensk areas to get a better understanding of the scope of military manoeuvres and establish whether Russia should, inter alia, report its activities according to prior notification procedures of Vienna Document. Main goal of the inspection was to collect information about units deployed to these regions, including data about their composition, tasks and activities.
The formal reason for declining inspection was difficult situation with Covid-19, but that has not prevented Russia form putting massive enlisting and military manoeuvre plan in motion at the same time.
In November-December of 2021 Latvia, respecting the principles of reciprocity and arms control information exchange, allowed Russian military commanders to visit Latvia with similar missions, despite restrictions put in place by Latvia due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Inspections and compliance with arms control commitments have become absolutely crucial at the time when Russia is conducting large-scale military exercise with Belarus and implements massive military build ups on the Ukrainian border.
Vienna Document is a tool for exchange of information between participating States, which enables dissemination of precise and detailed information about participating State’s military activities and their purpose to other participating States. Allowing inspections is a way for OSCE participating States to show their openness and commitment to international agreements based on Vienna Document, which regulates voluntary exchange of military information, its assessment and annual inspection visits by other OSCE participating States.