Latvia and Russia talk over military activities near border

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One day after NATO Foreign Ministers concluded two days of talks at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, officials of the Latvian and Russian Defense Ministries sat down December 8 in Riga to talk about border tensions.

The Latvian side confirmed the meeting had taken place in a release:

"Today, December 8, a discussion was held at the Ministry of Defense between Latvian and Russian Defense Ministry experts on confidence and security-building measures.

"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," the release said.

"During the discussions, the parties exchanged views on the security situation in the border area. The Latvian side emphasized 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. 

"Also the Latvian side emphasized that most of Russia's advanced capabilities and large-scale training Latvian border are geared towards attack rather than defense.

"Considering also unfriendly and sometimes hostile rhetoric with regard to Latvia, it creates the need for Latvia to seek additional security guarantees and to step up cooperation with its allies in response to Russian military activities.

"Taking into account developments in the last year, the Latvian side at the meeting asked for an explanation for the scale of military activities and offered ways to reduce tensions," the release said, withut specifing what such methods might be.

The original invitation to talk bilaterally came from the Russian side in August.

Last week Latvia responded by issuing its own invitation, which the Russians seem to have speedily accepted.

The Russian Defense Ministry also confirmed the meeting had happened in a brief statement..

"It was agreed to continue the dialogue specialists of the military departments of the two countries," the statement said.


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