Russia Opposes Changes to Vienna Document

  • In 2019, NATO suggested the need for the modernization of the original document, due to the changing trajectory
  • Russia was very adamant against having any type of changes.
  • Russia does not have any military training or activities planned near NATO borders this year.

On June 26, the head of the Russian delegation in Vienna stated that there are no prerequisites for the modernization of the Vienna Document, which was initiated by 34 states. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) held its annual conference in Vienna from June 23-25. The statement came post-OSCE Conference.

The mission of the OSCE is for political dialogue on a wide range of security issues and a platform for joint action to improve the lives of individuals and communities. Originally the OSCE was established in the 1970s to aide with negotiations between East and West in the midst of the Cold War era. Currently, the organization is the world largest regional security organization with 57 participating members across the globe.

The Vienna Document is an agreement between the participating states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe which was intended to implement confidence and security building measures. From 2014 onwards there have been fears that the Vienna Document is on the verge of becoming de facto defunct, as other arms control and security agreements continue to collapse due to the ongoing tensions in Eastern Europe.

The highlights of the Vienna Document, which was adopted in 2011:

  • Clause 9-The participating States will exchange annually information on their military forces concerning the military organization, manpower and major weapon and equipment systems, as specified below, in the zone of application for confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs). Participating States which have no military forces to be reported will so inform all other participating States.
  • Clause 11.2-Data on new types or versions of major weapon and equipment systems will be provided by each State when its deployment plans for the systems concerned are provided for the first time in accordance with paragraphs (13) and (14) below or, at the latest, when it deploys the systems concerned for the first time in the zone of application for CSBMs. If a participating State has already provided data on the same new type or version, other participating States may, if appropriate, certify the validity of those data as far as their system is concerned and indicate the national nomenclature if different.

In 2019, NATO suggested the need for the modernization of the original document, due to the changing trajectory. The head of the Russian delegation was very adamant against having any type of changes. The only way Russia will consider changes is if NATO stops all military activities near Russian borders, and the borders return to at least their 2014 setting. The acting head of the delegation stressed:

“The time has come for our partners to make a choice – either they will strengthen their security by building up their military capabilities and creating threats to Russia, or they are going to move towards greater security by developing arms control tools. These two processes are incompatible.”

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949. NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. NATO’s Headquarters are located in Evere, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium.

In his speech, the acting head of the Russian delegation, A. Vorobiev, stressed the minimization of military conflicts during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also stressed that Russia does not have any military training or activities planned near NATO borders this year.

The only military training that Russia will conduct is Caucasus 2020. However, it will be far from NATO borders. Caucasus 2020 will be conducted in September. It will also include the participation of six additional countries. Nevertheless, Ukraine is gravely bothered by the scheduled training activities.

There is already speculation that Russia will try to use the training activities to gain further advantage in Ukraine. However, it is highly likely that Ukraine is fishing for more funds to be given to them by NATO under the pretext of Russian aggression.

There is no basis on such findings at this time. It is highly unlikely in the parameters of the Caucasus training. It is important to point out that Russian President Vladimir Putin does have a desire to restore the Soviet Union, but it does not meant he upcoming training will be used for such.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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