AS (2015) CR 06
2015 ORDINARY SESSION
Wednesday 28 January 2015 at 3.30 p.m.
Challenge of the still unratified credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation
The following texts were submitted for inclusion in the official report by members who were present in the Chamber but were prevented by lack of time from delivering them.
Mr VOVK (Ukraine) – As proved by a large number of well-known facts, it is now clear that Russia’s use of force against Ukraine clearly qualifies as a war of aggression under Article 3 of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3314 on the "Definition of Aggression", adopted in December 1974. According to Article 5 of this Resolution, “A war of aggression is a crime against international peace. Aggression gives rise to international responsibility.”
In the situation where the Russian leadership cynically denies Russia’s role in the war of aggression, sanctions against the aggressor State, imposed by the international community, become a tool for the enforcement of Russia’s responsibility under international law. The basis for sanctions arises from the refusal of the subject that violates international law to stop its unlawful conduct and to fulfil its obligations. Keeping the principle of proportionality of sanctions is of great importance. The gravity of sanctions should be proportionate to the gravity of the violations and crime against international peace and order.
Yesterday, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a resolution recognising the Russian Federation as the aggressor State and calling upon the international community, first, to recognise Russia as the aggressor State that supports terrorism and obstructs the activities of the United Nations Security Council; secondly, to increase pressure on Russia, in particular by introducing new sectoral restrictive measures; thirdly, to restrict the credentials of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe until Russia has stopped ignoring the demands of the international democratic community.
Russian aggression not only violates international law and order but threatens global security and, please note, undermines the nuclear non-proliferation regime. It jeopardises every member of the international community, and European democracies in particular. In resisting Russian aggression, Ukraine is at the same time fighting for Europe and its values.
Europe cannot secure its safety by appeasing the aggressor and sacrificing Ukraine’s legitimate interests. If the European democracies care about their own security, they should stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine to resist the aggressor, with the aim of defending the common values of civilisation: world peace and order. I call upon you to annul the credentials of the Russian delegation as the only sanction that is proportionate and adequate in the current situation, and at least to maintain the earlier sanctions, otherwise you will make yourselves look ridiculous.
Ms SOTNYK (Ukraine) – For most of the past year, Ukraine and Russia have been fighting an undeclared war: thousands of people have been killed or horribly injured, hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Since the Assembly adopted Resolution 1990, following Russia’s brutal violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, Russia has shown no intention of improving this dire state of affairs – quite the contrary.
After the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, Russia has started a war in the east of Ukraine. Let me remind you of the three worst outrages and tragic events that have happened in Ukraine: the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight, which was shot down by Russian-supported and armed terrorists; the shelling of the bus in Volnovakha, which took the lives of innocent people, including many children; and, contrary to all agreements, the attack on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol by pro-Russian terrorists during which 30 civilians were killed – including women and children – and 97 seriously injured. Therefore, there is no doubt that Ukraine remains an object of Russia's aggression, which it conducts through supporting and supplying arms for major terrorist attacks. For all these reasons and more, yesterday, the Ukrainian Parliament officially declared the Russian Federation an aggressor. By doing so, we call for stronger sanctions on Russia.
Let us face it: there is a war to liberate Ukraine from Russian aggression and the violation of its territorial integrity as a European State – the biggest since the dark days of the Balkan wars. By violating the borders of Ukrainian territory, Russia has violated the whole of European security. Hence, there is a very high risk, not only to peace and stability in Ukraine, but to peace and stability in the whole of Europe.
Today, we call on all members to vote for the annulment of the credentials of the Russian delegation and for the suspension of their voting rights. I stress that, under Assembly Resolution 1990, members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe reserve the right to annul the credentials of the Russian delegation if Russia does not de-escalate the situation. Unfortunately, to date, Russia has not fulfilled any of its commitments under international law, in particular the Minsk protocols. I underline that Ukraine is ready for a constructive dialogue with representatives of the Russian Federation, but Russia must first demonstrate its willingness and readiness to meet its obligations.
Crimes that were committed against Ukrainian citizens and acts of terrorism must receive an adequate response from the European Union. It is a test both for humanity and for moral dignity: turning a blind eye to such horrible and shameful crimes would mean indulging terrorists and aggressors and would violate high European values, for which Ukrainians are suffering and dying. Je suis Charlie! Je suis Volnovakha! Je suis Ukrainian! We all share the same struggle – the struggle against the most feared disease of the 21st century: the thirst for violence and cruelty. In this struggle, we must stand united.
Ms IONOVA (Ukraine) – "Be afraid of the indifferent; they do not kill or betray, but because of their silent consent, betrayal and murder exist on Earth." This quote from the unfinished novel of a Polish writer is relevant for us today. We all remember the beginning of the Second World War. We all remember the conflicts in Moldova and Georgia in 2008. History tends to repeat itself.
In April 2014, a resolution of the Council of Europe was adopted: in nine months, not one of the conditions has been fulfilled. In recent days, we have often heard the word "dialogue". But how?
Here are some facts about the conflict in Ukraine – they cannot leave anyone indifferent. According
to UNICEF data, more than 1.2 million children have been affected by the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
According to UN data, more than 1 million people have been displaced by the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and more than 130 000 of them are children. Sixty children have been killed in the conflict, 50 over the past year, and 10 more in January 2015. Two children died on 24 January when the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol was shelled. Thousands of Donetsk residents, including children, are forced to hide in basements. More than 5 000 people have been killed, with more than 13 000 injured. Each day this number increases.
In relating these facts, we appeal to those whose decisions, actions or inactivity support the aggressor and the terrorists who are violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and who are killing peaceful Ukrainian citizens. Their actions are a threat, not only to Ukraine, but also to the security of the continent. How far will they be permitted to go in violating international law? Do we respect the strength of the rule of law or of the law of force?
Mr Kremlin is carefully watching how the Western countries react to the situation. Any reduction in sanctions on Russia will be accepted as a green light for further aggression. Let us make no mistake: the events of the past weeks and months have shown that Russia’s main intention in Ukraine is to destroy the Ukrainian State, its democratic institutions and its economy. Lifting sanctions against Russia will only give it more ammunition to complete the job in Ukraine. And then, the question will be who is next: Moldova, Romania, the Baltic States, Poland?
Russia is playing a double game in Ukraine. Russia denies its troops are in Ukraine, saying that there is no evidence of Russian involvement in the conflict in the Donbass region. But how can you see Russian weapons in the hands of terrorists and still deny Russia’s invasion? How can you see the official documents of Russian mercenaries and deny Russia’s invasion? It is like saying that black is white.
It is suggested that we continue a dialogue, but we need an open and honest dialogue. This dialogue can only be conducted after the full implementation of the Minsk protocol by the Russian Federation. The Council of Europe is about human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Is it about the Russian Federation?
We ask you to understand us. The Ukrainian army defends Ukrainian territory, territorial integrity, and independence. Ukraine does not attack anyone, but the aggressor is in our land, and the Russian Federation is the aggressor! Yesterday, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a statement to recognise Russia as the aggressor State. This statement is directed at the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of GUAM – Organisation for Democracy and Economic Development – and the national parliaments of European countries. The statement reads: "Parliament recognises the Russian Federation as the aggressor State and calls on Ukraine's international partners to prevent impunity for those responsible for crimes against humanity committed since the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine”.
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine calls on us "to recognise Russia as the aggressor State that supports terrorists, blocks the activity of the United Nations Security Council and threatens international peace and security. The so-called ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’ must be recognised as terrorist organisations". The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine asks for the Russian delegation's powers in the Parliamentary Assembly to be restricted until Moscow stops ignoring international demands.
We need joint action more than ever. Only together can we stop aggression and terrorism. The experience of conflicts in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine shows the importance of mutual understanding and support. On behalf of the Ukrainian delegation, I call you to honestly assess the situation in Ukraine and make it clear that Russia must follow international law and international order.
Mr SASI (Finland) – The report reflects the situation very well. It also shows that no progress has taken place – on the contrary, Russia continues to destabilise the situation in Ukraine.
Therefore, there is every reason to maintain the suspension of the Russian delegation’s voting rights and this is not the right time to ease the sanctions. However, we could reach out our hand. When there are some new limitations to authorised activities for Russia, we could let Russia sit at the same table in the Standing Committee. Dialogue is needed, but the right to influence our decisions should be limited.
I think that we should follow the situation very closely. Therefore, it is important that we return to the question of voting rights at our next session in April. But it must be clear that the Russians must deliver the first things on the road map. It was encouraging that Mr Pushkov promised progress in the case of Nadiia Savchenko and in the observing of human rights in Crimea.
Mr KLICH (Poland) – After Russian troops invaded Crimea and Donbass, we, in Europe, were alerted to the fact that President Putin was trying to restore Russia as an aggressive power. But not everybody can figure out the consequences of this attempt.
Putin’s policy is an attempt to undermine the entire model of international security – one based on co-operation and dialogue, instead of the use of military force. This model has prevailed since the end of the Cold War, and has long been the animating vision behind European integration. His aggression has dispelled whatever doubts existed as to whether international organisations – the Council of Europe among them – still matter. The question now is whether we retain the will, and means, to defend our set of rules in Eastern Europe: respect for human rights, political freedoms, the rule of law, sovereignty. The question is about our readiness to act.
If, together with other international institutions, we fail to show this readiness, we will be useless. That is why we must maintain pressure on the Kremlin to reverse its intervention and respect all the provisions of the Minsk protocol. We should continue a policy of smart sanctions, among them our decision to suspend the voting rights of the Russian Federation, as well as some other rights, because there is no evidence that the Kremlin has changed its mind. Despite a nominally binding cease-fire, the situation on the ground is deteriorating. In the course of last week, we observed a new wave of escalation, especially in light of Russia’s new military incursions in Donbass. We were shocked by other examples of crimes in Mariupol, perpetrated by so-called separatists backed by Putin’s regime.
Given the gravity of the situation, it seems foolhardy to grant the Russian delegation the full set of rights that it enjoyed before its invasion of Ukraine. If we do so, as a Parliamentary Assembly, we will show that our commitment to European values is only artificial.