The European political body agreed to take further diplomatic sanctions, removing Russia’s right to vote on important issues including human rights, the rule of law and international cooperation. The decision was made after the council criticised Russia’s involvement in Ukraine and it’s funding of rebels in Eastern Ukraine.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also voted for an amendment calling on Russia to free Ukrainian pilot Nadezha Savchenko who was captured in July and remains in police custody. Russia claims that Savchenko is being held in connection to her involvement with the murder of two journalists in Eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities however claim the pilot was in no way involved.
In response to the council decision Russia announced plans to boycott the assembly.
Head of the Russian delegation Alexy Pushnov stated:
“We had informed our colleagues that in the case of our credentials, our voting rights and the right to be present in the leading bodies of the Parliamentary Assembly – like the bureau, the standing committee – are withdrawn, even for a short period, then the Russian delegation stops its presence in the Parliamentary Assembly, leaves this session.”
The Council of Europe is one of Europe’s key political bodies and one of the last areas in which Russia and Europe continued to cooperate. Russia’s suspension and the resulting political boycott is already being marked as a significant step-back in the diplomatic process.
Although some key figures supported the suspension several critics have warned that Europe’s attempt to enforce further sanctions on Russia will lead to further isolation of the nation. Isolation and a lack of cooperation with Western powers have previously been cited as a key factor in Russia’s foreign policy.