Latvian and Russian defense ministry officials meet for bilateral talks
Latvian and Russian officials met on Thursday to talk about border tensions, just a day after a meeting of NATO’s foreign ministers in Brussels. The bilateral talks concentrated on the security situation along the countries’ border, the Latvian defense ministry confirmed.
The Latvian defense ministry confirmed the meeting, saying that it had discussed confidence and security-building measures. Latvia was offering Russia an additional arms control inspection beyond the provisions of the Vienna Document, which regulates military exchange and arms control between NATO and Russia.
“In order to promote mutual openness and trust in military matters, the Latvian side offered in addition to the existing provisions of arms control, resulting from the European Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Vienna Document, one further arms control evaluation visit and one inspection of Latvian-Russian border areas, and calls on Russia to declare its readiness for greater transparency in military activities, not only in words but also in deeds,” a press release by the Latvian defense ministry stated.
The meeting had discussed aspects of the security situation along the Latvian-Russian border, and Latvia had made it a point to stress that “Russian military activities, including large-scale military exercises, development of military infrastructure, and the creation of new military units raise concerns about Russia’s intentions and long-term ambitions in the region”.
Most of Russia’s personnel and equipment moved to the area was geared towards attack, and not defense, the statement added.
Russia had suggested to meet with the countries along its Western border for bilateral talks on security issues. This time, the invitation was extended by Latvia.
Hanso: No additional meeting formats needed
Chairman of the Riigikogu’s National Defence Committee and Estonia’s former Minister of Defence, Hannes Hanso (SDE), said to ERR commenting the meeting that there were formats to communicate with Russia already in place, and that no additional ones were needed.
Hanso said that Estonia was talking to Russia within the existing international formats, the NATO-Russia council and the OSCE among them. “But if the Latvians find that they have something to discuss bilaterally, I understand the Latvian defense minister met with the Russian ambassador already in spring, which for example the Estonian defense minister has never done. That is their right. They have informed Estonia about the subjects of these meetings,” Hanso added.
Still, Estonia wouldn’t take such a step, Hanno said, and according to the information he had, neither would Lithuania.