Latvia asks Russia to talks on «serious questions» about border activity

Latvia's Defense Ministry said November 22 it was inviting high-level Russian defense officials to talks in Riga because of "serious questions about the intentions of the neighboring country" in border areas.

The Ministry said it was responding to an earlier Russian invitation, issued in August, for Latvian officials to go to Moscow to discuss regional security.

"Latvia has consistently pointed to the fact that Russian military activity in the border area, including the development of military infrastructure, raises serious questions about the intentions of the neighboring country. Moreover, Russia conducts military exercises without telling its neighbors about their time and place. Therefore, the meeting would aim to achieve greater transparency from the neighboring country's side," the statement says. 

"The Ministry of Defense plans to discuss issues of Russian military activities, including large-scale training on the Latvian border," the statement adds.

The original invitation from the Russian side was sent via its military attache in Riga, so the reply was directed via him too.

Latvia at the time said it wanted concrete proposals before talks could take place. Formal military cooperation between Russia and Latvia was suspended in the wake of Russia's invasion of Crimea in 2014.

There were also suspicions at the time of the original invitation that Moscow was trying to amplify any divisions within NATO by talking to neighboring countries one-on-one instead of via the alliance.

However, Latvia now seems willing to talk, with the ministry saying it "does not exclude dialogue in order to promote trust between the two countries, as well as reducing the threat of incidents over the Baltic Sea. The Ministry of Defence is interested in activities that reduce tensions in the region, caused by Russia's aggressive military action near the Latvian border."

"Planned consultations at the expert level in Riga are in accordance with common NATO policy," the ministry insisted.

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