Belarus' reply to the Baltic states' OSCE appeal requesting clarity over military exercises in the country was "insufficient", the Estonian Ministry of Affairs said on Friday.
"Their response was received today, February 11, during the afternoon. Belarus' response to the specific questions submitted by the three Baltic states remained insufficient," ministry spokesperson Liisa Toots told ERR on Friday.
She said Estonia will now coordinate with Latvia and Lithuania to figure out which steps to take next. The countries now have the right to hold additional consultations with Belarus.
"The maximum implementation of the existing transparency measures is important in today's security situation, but they can only function if all parties show openness and readiness for a meaningful dialogue," Toots said.
On 9 February requested #Belarus to provide a detailed explanation of the exercise, as required by the @OSCE Vienna Document. Belarus' response to the Baltic States' inquiries remained insufficient. Next steps will be coordinated together with #Latvia & #Lithuania. https://t.co/f3vQrYnfK9— Estonian MFA (@MFAestonia) February 11, 2022
Russia has moved tens of thousands of troops into Belarus in recent weeks. While Belarus has said they will leave after joint military exercises end on February 20, the Baltics are concerned this will not happen.
Earlier this week, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania lodged an appeal with the OSCE over the "extraordinary movement" of troops and equipment seeking more clarity under the OSCE's Vienna Document.
The document allows all 57 member states to ask for exercise information as a confidence-building measure whenever they feel threatened by another member's troop movements.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia requested a "detailed explanation on the exercise," including the total number of troops, battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery pieces, mortars and rocket launchers, envisaged sorties per aircraft, and rapid-reaction forces involved, a spokesperson for the Estonian Embassy in Washington told website Defense News.
Editor: Helen Wright