Statement by Member of the Delegation of the Russian Federation to the Vienna Negotiations on Military Security and Arms Control A. VOROBIEV at the IWG on «Structured Dialogue» meeting in the Vienna-based format, 19 February 2021
Distinguished Ambassador Cuesta,
At the outset, allow me to congratulate you on your appointment as the Chairperson of the Informal Working Group (IWG) on the Structured Dialogue and thank you for organizing today’s meeting.
We carefully listened to your detailed and quite encouraging report on the first outcome of your consultations with delegations of the participating States that you are intending to continue, as well as the indicative calendar of events for this year. We appreciate the great work you have accomplished that provides a solid ground for future activities on this track.
We were pleased to learn that the Spanish Chair intends to add more dynamic to the Structured Dialogue. To this end, just as before, you have put forward some innovative ideas both with regard to the overall approach and to the working plan.
We took positive note of the fact that your indicative calendar provides for holding one more meeting compared to the previous year. Besides, you intend to continue the proved practice of holding two-day meetings with sessions involving expert level on the first day and political level discussions on the second. These modalities could help experts to feel more comfortable while sharing their opinions on a subject.
The fact that the Chair is considering to expand the geography of the third meeting which is to be organized, if conditions allow, in a shape of Retreat, to our mind, can also contribute to the exchange of views.
In addition, the motto proposed by the Chairpersonship that stresses the importance of understanding for security (including four components – Listening, Reflecting, Sharing, Learning), sets the right key for further dialogue and a way ahead.
As we understood, the Chair plans to frame the process in the two main areas: military-political aspects of security and current and future security challenges. We expect that the Chairpersonship will soon present the specific topics for the meetings, and look forward to interesting discussion on the document “Framework for Arms Control” adopted in Lisbon. Naturally, we will seek the final approval of the proposed annual indicative calendar from our capital.
The work of the IWG obviously builds on achievements of the previous years, and in this regard, we would like to highlight the contribution of the German, Belgian and the Dutch Chairpersonships to the development of this process.
The Russian Federation shares the view that the Structured Dialogue is an important confidence-building measure aimed at de-escalation of tensions and search for ways to restore European security. It has proved to be a valuable platform for maintaining contacts between military experts and for holding an open exchange of views on threat perception.
We support continuation of the Structured Dialogue this year and stand ready to engage in a professional, constructive, depoliticized and calm discussion, including on the level of experts from capitals. At the same time, while the dialogue itself is important, we should not lose sight of its possible outcomes, as provided for by the Hamburg OSCE Ministerial Council declaration. This requires political will of the participating States to seek common solutions based on equality and mutual respect of each other’s interests.
In our view, it is essential to keep and strengthen the politico-military dimension of the Structured Dialogue, A certain progress has already been made in this regard and it needs to be continued. The previous IWG meetings confirmed the importance of discussions between military representatives on incident prevention at sea and in the air, as well as dangerous military activities. We see the value of sharing positive experience in implementing bilateral agreements in this field.
We have many converging interests in the sphere of countering current and future security threats and challenges. A constructive dialogue on this topic should help us to reach common understanding on a new model of European security and further development of its key elements.
Nevertheless, since “hybrid threats” have been mentioned, let me repeat what we stated on many occasions, that this issue, because of its clear confrontational potential, neither is in line with the “Hamburg mandate”, nor is it beneficial to strengthening of the Structured Dialogue as it restrains the progress of this format. By contrast, let us recall the last year discussion between military experts on practical issues, which was much more productive. We are convinced that the Structured Dialogue should avoid fruitless polemics and rather be aimed at obtaining concrete results in the military-political sphere.
The contemporary Euro-Atlantic stability cannot be achieved without genuine co-operation. We are convinced that the dialogue is to be aimed at finding ways to restore trust and reduce confrontation in the OSCE region. If we agree that the current situation on the continent is of concern to all participating States, it would be logical to work diligently and focus on efforts to reduce military threat, deescalate the situation, reduce military confrontation (return to status quo at least as of early 2014) and military activities along the Russia-NATO border on a reciprocity basis, re-establish bilateral military contacts, restore trust and improve the mechanisms for preventing incidents and dangerous military activities. These issues are also to be discussed at the Structured Dialogue platform.
On our part, we intend to continue, as a sign of good will, to inform the participating States of snap exercises and invite military attachés of foreign states as observers.
By the way, two years ago our General Staff of the Armed Forces made concrete proposals to the Alliance to increase, on a mutual basis, the distance of military exercises to the Russia-NATO contact line. Similar proposals have been put forward with regard to aviation security over the Baltic Sea and the minimum safe distance between naval ships and combat aircraft. Regrettably, we have not received constructive response so far.
Russia is ready to continue its participation in the Structured Dialogue but notes that the conversation will not go well along with the attempts to politicize the discussion and include confrontational issues in the agenda.
In conclusion, allow me to once again thank for the detailed report and wish you and your excellent team every success in fulfilling a challenging mission of the Chairpersonship of the IWG Structured Dialogue. We look forward to fruitful co-operation with you and with all other Delegations.
Thank you for the attention.