UK hosts Vienna Document visit

This week, the UK has hosted a team from the Russian Arms Control Verification Agency to evaluate UK defence units in-line with our obligations under the Vienna Document.

The Vienna Document came into force in 1990 and currently has 57 participating States, including Russia.  This is a politically binding suite of confidence and security building measures, designed to enhance transparency and predictability in the Euro-Atlantic area through information sharing and verification.  It helps to reduce the risk of misunderstanding or a military incident occurring by providing a chance for participating States to understand one another a bit better.

While some may think of our various Arms Control agreements as Post Cold War relics, these agreements continue to play an important part in improving the stability and security the Euro-Atlantic area and are an integral part of maintaining confidence and trust amongst States.

The UK’s lead officer for Arms Control implementation, Wing Commander Danny Endruweit, Commanding Officer of the UK’s Joint Arms Control Implementation Group (JACIG), described what this is about and his team’s role in the process:

“The Joint Arms Control Implementation Group (JACIG) is the UK’s Arms Control Verification Agency and was formed in 1990 to implement the UK’s international arms control commitments and related obligations. Currently 19 strong, JACIG personnel are drawn from the Army and the RAF.  The majority are officers or SNCOs from a wide cross section of professional disciplines, all of whom are trained as arms control inspectors.  The unit seeks to enhance security amongst nations by promoting confidence and openness in military matters.

“This week we welcome a team from Russia and Belarus to the UK for a Vienna Document mission.  The visit will be pretty routine. Such missions are commonplace, reciprocal and have been going on for many years. We last welcomed Russia to the UK in April last year, and in 2016 the team took part in 9 Vienna Document inspections in other countries, including to Russia, Kazakhstan, and Sweden.

“When these missions occur in the UK, my unit acts as the escorts for the inbound delegation.  We ensure that the UK meets its international obligations, smooth the interaction between the visiting team and the UK military, and provide assurances to both sides that everything is being conducted in an accordance with the specifications of the agreement.

“So why do we do it? The opportunity to observe each other’s military units is invaluable for transparency and the development of international trust between nations. In addition, we also get to interact professionally and to deepen our understanding of one another; in this instance of our Russian counterparts.  Overall,it is a hugely valuable and professional experience for both nations – and long may that continue.”

Conventional Arms Control policy is provided by the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office through the Joint Unit on Euro Atlantic Security Policy. The United Kingdom remains fully committed to the Vienna Document, to its principles and to the benefits we have derived, and continue to derive, from its admirable aims and objectives.  We firmly believe in its positive impact on Euro-Atlantic Security – including the transparency, certainty and predictability that are delivered through its implementation.