Russia quits Council of Europe – pre-empting a likely expulsion over its invasion of Ukraine
- Russia has quit the Council of Europe rights watchdog pre-empting an expulsion
- Council’s secretary general received a letter to that effect today, Russia reported
- Russian forces today stepped up its bombardment of Kyiv with a series of strikes
Russia on Tuesday formally quit the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog based in Strasbourg, pre-empting possible expulsion over its attack on its neighbour Ukraine.
The foreign ministry posted a statement on ‘launching the procedure to exit the Council of Europe’ on its Telegram account, saying it had given notification of its departure to the Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric.
The Council of Europe, whose brief is to uphold human rights and the rule of law and is separate from the European Union, had suspended Russia’s membership on February 25, the day after it invaded Ukraine.
Moscow said last week that the US-led NATO alliance and EU countries were undermining the Council and Russia would no longer participate.
On Monday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal urged the Council to expel Russia, telling the assembly that those responsible for ‘this unprovoked and unjustified aggression cannot stay in the single European family where human life is the highest value’.
It comes after Moscow’s forces stepped up the bombardment of Kyiv with a series of strikes that hit a residential neighbourhood in the capital city on Tuesday morning, killing at least four.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced a 36-hour curfew from 8pm Tuesday ahead of expected intense Russia shelling as President Putin grows increasingly impatient with the stuttering pace of his invasion launched nearly three weeks ago.
Russia on Tuesday formally quit the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog based in Strasbourg, (pictured) pre-empting possible expulsion over its attack on its neighbour Ukraine
President Vladimir Putin (pictured on March 1, 2022) launched ‘the procedure to exit’ the Council as pressure grew for Russia’s expulsion from the pan-European rights group
It came as Moscow’s forces (pictured, pro-Russian separatist troops in the Donetsk region) stepped up the bombardment of Kyiv with a series of strikes that hit a residential neighbourhood in the capital city on Tuesday morning, killing at least four
Pyotr Tolstoy, head of the Russian delegation at the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly, handed a letter detailing that Moscow was leaving the European organisation to secretary general Buric on Tuesday.
It comes nearly three weeks after Russia was suspended over its invasion of Ukraine.
The Kremlin said last month that Russia’s suspension was unfair, but provided a good reason to ‘slam the door’ for good on the organisation, giving Moscow an opportunity to restore the death penalty for dangerous criminals.
Russia describes its invasion of Ukraine as a ‘special operation’ to demilitarise and ‘denazify’ Ukraine and prevent a genocide of Russian-speakers. Ukraine and Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a war of choice.
The Council was founded in 1949 in an attempt to enshrine human rights in Europe’s post-war order. It drew up the European Convention on Human Rights, which in turn established the European Court of Human Rights. Russia joined in 1996.
Leonid Slutsky, head of the International Affairs Committee of Russia’s lower house of parliament, said the countries of NATO and the EU had seen the Council as ‘a means of ideological support for their military-political and economic expansion to the east’.
Russia would now withdraw from the Human Rights Convention, he said on his Telegram channel, adding: ‘But don’t be afraid… All rights will be guaranteed in our country, necessarily and unconditionally.’
Firefighters work in an apartment building damaged by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, by Russian forces early Tuesday
It comes after Russia circulated a bizarre proposed UN Security Council resolution demanding protection for civilians ‘in vulnerable situations’ in Ukraine and safe passage for humanitarian aid and people seeking to leave the country.
The draft resolution released Tuesday expresses ‘grave concern’ at the deteriorating humanitarian situation and reports of civilian casualties in and around Ukraine – but it makes no mention of Russia’s responsibility for the war against its smaller neighbor.
Russia’s UN resolution endorses UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for dialogue and negotiations and calls for a negotiated cease-fire to rapidly evacuate ‘all civilians,’ and underscores ‘the need for the parties concerned to agree on humanitarian pauses to this end.’
The draft, which never identifies ‘the parties concerned,’ could be put to a vote as early as Wednesday, according to a Russian diplomat who was not authorized to speak publicly because discussions have been private.
The Russian measure was circulated a day after France and Mexico announced that a humanitarian resolution on Ukraine they co-sponsored, which had been discussed for two weeks in the Security Council, was being moved to the 193-member General Assembly for discussion and a vote.
That draft resolution called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and deplored the dire humanitarian consequences of the hostilities in Ukraine, provisions which are not in the proposed Russian resolution.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also said in a video released in the early hours of Tuesday morning that Ukraine’s ‘brave defenders continue to inflict devastating losses on Russian troops’
Russia has circulated a bizarre proposed UN Security Council resolution demanding protection for civilians ‘in vulnerable situations’ in Ukraine and safe passage for humanitarian aid and people seeking to leave the country
The France-Mexico resolution would almost certainly have led to a Russian veto in the Security Council, but there are no vetoes in the General Assembly.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters that his country is prepared to support a humanitarian resolution and after Monday’s announcement by the French and Mexican ambassadors Russia thinks ‘the chances are still there,’ so he was putting forward its ‘roadmap’ and will see whether the council adopts it.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine must accept it will not become a member of NATO.
Zelensky said that ‘Ukraine is not a member of NATO’ and that ‘we have heard for years that the doors were open, but we also heard that we could not join. It’s a truth and it must be recognised.’
His statement, while making no firm commitments, will be seen as further opening the door to some kind of peace deal between Ukraine and Russia after negotiators hailed ‘substantial’ progress at the weekend – without giving any idea what such a deal would look like.
Ahead of the invasion, Putin had been demanding guarantees that Ukraine would never be admitted to NATO along with the removal of all the alliance’s troops and weapons from ex-Soviet countries.
Former boxing champion Klitschko announced today a 36-hour curfew from 8pm (6pm GMT) on Tuesday until 7am (5am GMT) on Thursday at the ‘decision of the military command’ after an apartment building in Kyiv was hit this morning, killing at least four people (pictured)
Vladimir Putin’s stuttering invasion has forced even his close allies to admit, publicly, that things are not going to plan but, as Russia’s invasion falters, its methods become more brutal – with cities increasingly coming under indiscriminate rocket fire (pictured, a Ukrainian soldier inspects the rubble of a destroyed apartment building in Kyiv on Tuesday)
The announcement came as Russia launched fresh attacks in Ukraine’s capital, which has nearly been encircled by Moscow’s troops in the third week of the invasion and that has lost an estimated half of its 3.5-million pre-war population (pictured, Evacuated residents react outside their 16-storey residential building which was destroyed in Kyiv on Tuesday)
Firefighters extinguish a blaze in a residential tower block in Kyiv after it was struck by Russian missiles in the early hours, as Putin’s men continue with indiscriminate strikes on cities
Ukrainian firefighters battle to extinguish a blaze in a residential tower block hit by Russian missiles, as Kyiv came under fresh bombardment on Tuesday morning
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