Armament control

After Latvia entered the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the country has gradually joined several mechanisms of security dialogue and arms control, particularly the Vienna Document and Open Skies Agreement.

The Vienna Document (2011) establishes annual voluntary exchange of military information (capacity of armed forces, budget, personnel, armament, defence plans, etc.) between the member states, as well as a mechanism for verification of the information – inspections and evaluation visits that allow to gather information about the armed forces and current condition of armament of the neighbour countries. Pursuant to the document, each member state has to host three armament inspections and one evaluation visit each year (exception for this condition is the Russian Federation and France – these countries have to host two evaluation visits per year).

The Open Skies Agreement (2002) establishes the ability to carry out surveillance flights and flights for photography within the territory of 34 member states in order to gather information about armed forces, military objects, and activities. The Open Skies Agreement is not connected to agreements for improvement of civil aviation freedom. In November 2020, the United States withdrew from the agreement. This was followed by the withdrawal of the Russian Federation from the agreement on January 15, 2021. Despite the termination of the membership of these two countries, the Open Skies Agreement continues to function and provide additional confidence among the 32 member states.

Latvia took the presidency and carried out the respective functions in the advisory committee for the Open Skies Agreement from 1 May 2014 to 29 August 2014.

With entering NATO, the amount of exchanged information about the member states of the Alliance has increased significantly, but the number of countries that have expressed the wish to visit Latvia in regard to the Vienna Document or Open Skies Agreement has decreased considerably. For the past few years, mainly Latvia has hosted inspections, evaluation visits, and evaluation flights from Russia and Belarus; rarely such requests have been received from countries outside NATO. Latvia also used the options granted by the agreement by annually carrying out evaluation visits, inspections, and evaluation flights within the territory of Russia and Belarus. Since the Russian war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022 and Belarus's participation in it, cooperation with Belarus and Russia under arms control has not been established. The aggressive behaviour of these countries violates the fundamental principles of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, on which all member states have agreed, and undermines stability and peace in Europe.