According to the Finnish government, the Russian Federation terminated a key military supplement to the Vienna Agreement of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This supplement has allowed the Russian Federation and Finland to inspect each other’s military bases. Both countries have focused on inspections of the others’ air bases in recent years. This agreement has stood since 2000 and is unique in that Russia does not allow any other nation such access. Now that Russia has terminated the agreement, no other nation has a bilateral inspection access to Russian airbases.
According to the Finnish government:
“The bilateral agreement on additional assessment visits was last applied before the corona pandemic. In 2017 and 2019-21, Russia’s inspections focused on the aviation of Karelia, and in 2016 and 2018 on the aviation of Lapland. Accordingly, Finland has carried out inspections on Ostrov in 2016, Besovets in 2017, Sputnik in 2018 and Luga in 2019. No visits were made to Russia in 2020 and 2021 due to corona restrictions, and no visits to either country in 2022 due to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”
This move is undoubtedly due to the accession of Finland to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on 4 Apr 23. While Russian Defense Minister Shoigu vowed to establish twelve new military bases on the Finnish border in response to early Finnish announcements to join NATO, this move constitutes a significant policy change concerning Russia’s arctic neighbor. Terminating this agreement will only decrease understanding between the two nations, especially during such a heightened security environment.