Saturday June 10, 2023

Russia terminates bilateral deal with Finland on military evaluation visits

Published : 25 May 2023, 01:25

  DF Report
Ministry for Foreign Affairs. File Photo: Finnish government by Kotila Laura.

Finland was informed by Russia on Tuesday that Russia will terminate the bilateral agreement between Finland and Russia on additional military evaluation visits as of 1 June, said the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in a press release.

Under the agreement, Russia may make one evaluation visit to Finland per calendar year, and reciprocally Finland may make one evaluation visit to Russia’s Leningrad Military District.

This bilateral agreement, signed in 2000, complements the Vienna Document adopted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

In the Vienna Document, OSCE Participating States agree on military visits, evaluation visits and prior notifications of certain military activities, among other confidence- and security-building measures. The Vienna Document is one of the main instruments for conventional arms control. The Vienna Document itself is still in force, and Russia’s decision to terminate the bilateral agreement does not affect other measures under the Vienna Document, such as observation and evaluation visits.

The bilateral agreement on additional evaluation was last applied before the COVID-19 pandemic. Russia evaluated the Karelia Air Command in 2017 and 2019–2021 and the Lapland Air Command in 2016 and 2018.

Finland has made comparable evaluation visits to Ostrov in 2016, to Besovets in 2017, to Sputnik in 2018 and to Luga in 2019.

Finland did not visit Russia in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, and neither country made any visits in 2022 because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There are 23 similar bilateral agreements in the OSCE region. Finland has a similar agreement with Sweden, while Russia has no other bilateral agreements. However, Russia is a Party to two similar multilateral agreements in the Black Sea region.

Finland and the international community condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The full implementation of the Vienna Document should be resumed without delay. Finland will work to strengthen the international arms control system, safeguard the functioning of the treaty organisations and to increase security.

Finland emphasises the importance of compliance with arms control agreements and the application of confidence-building measures. There is even greater need for conventional arms control and confidence- and security-building measures in Europe after Russia’s war in Ukraine has ended.