Russia cancels visit of Latvian arms inspectors

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From January 24 to 29, Latvian representatives were scheduled to visit Russia under the auspices of the long-standing Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Arms Control Inspection agreements, but on January 21 the visit was cancelled, the Latvian Ministry of Defense confirmed January 25. 

Furthermore the cancellation of the visit was "misleadingly reported" on the website of the Russian Ministry of Defense as being due to Covid-19 epidemiological restrictions, according to its Latvian counterpart.

The purpose of the inspection was to visit the Bryansk and Smolensk districts in order to determine the scope of the military activities carried out in these districts, especially those that must be notified in advance within the framework of the Vienna Document.

Latvia itself hosted inspections by Russian military officials several times in late 2021, as reported by LSM at the time, despite strict epidemiological measures being in place.

"The formal reason for the refusal was the challenges posed by Covid-19, but it should be noted that the pandemic did not affect Russia's large-scale conscription and military maneuvers," the Latvian Ministry of Defense noted.

"The excuse of Covid-19 restrictions suggests that Russia has something to hide and that it does not want to reveal the true scope and intentions of its military activities, as required by OSCE co-operation,” said Defense Minister Artis Pabriks.


The Vienna Document serves as a mechanism to inform other OSCE participating states in detail about military activities and intentions. By receiving visits, OSCE participating states demonstrate their openness and commitment to their international obligations under the Vienna Document, which provides for an annual voluntary exchange of military information, assessment and inspection visits between OSCE participating states.

"Adherence to inspection visits and arms control commitments is particularly important at a time when Russia is conducting large-scale military exercises with Belarus and gathering troops at Ukraine's borders," the Latvian Ministry of Defense said.

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