Lukewarm response to Russian «regional security» invitation

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Latvia has given a lukewarm response to an invitation from Russia to attend talks in Moscow to discuss the tense regional security situation.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement September 22 it had received letters from Russia "with an invitation to regional security talks in Moscow" but said it was "awaiting concrete proposals from Russia to reduce its aggressive military stance near Latvia's borders."

Latvia's position on discussing "politico-military" matters with Russia has not changed in that such talks are not possible following Russia's illegal interventions in Ukraine, the statement said.

However, the tone then softens slightly and the ministry says it is "interested in promoting transparency in the region, as well reducing the threat of an incident over the Baltic Sea in order to reduce the tension caused by Russia's aggressive military operations and infrastructure development at the Latvian border."

Discussions on reducing regional tensions should take place "within existing formats" such as the NATO-Russia Council and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the ministry says, adding: "If Russia has concrete proposals for the promotion of military transparency, the Ministry of Defense will be ready to discuss them." 

Moscow appears to be trying to lure regional states to Moscow for talks on an individual basis, which could potentially be an effort to exacerbate differences between fellow NATO member states and between NATO and non-NATO members Sweden and Finland.

There could also be suspicions that rather than offering actual solutions to dangers such as military planes flying across the Baltic Sea with transponders turned off, creating a hazard for civilian airlines, the Kremlin may try to establish equivalence between Russian and NATO actions by alleging, for example, that NATO spy planes are flying with transponders turned off.

The latest Russian military plane to be identified in international airspace near Latvia's border was an An-12 spotted September 22, according to Latvia's armed forces.

Meanwhile NATO has produced a pop video-style short video complete with funky camera-work introducing its Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, in which Latvia participates.


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