Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Will Ukraine become a bargaining chip in the big geopolitical game between Russia and Europe?

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) allowed the delegation of the Russian Federation to return to the session hall of the Assembly with the restoration of all rights without fulfilling any conditions relating to the restoration of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, including the termination of the occupation of Crimea and separate parts of Donbass. The results of the vote announced the President of the PACE, Liliane Maury Pasquier at a meeting of the summer session, which was held on June 24-28 in Strasbourg (France). 118 parliamentarians voted "for" the resolution, 62 voted "against", and 10 abstained. Thus, the PACE supported the draft resolution on the strengthening of the decision-making process in the Assembly relating to the credentials and vote, which created an opportunity to lift sanctions against the Russian delegation. In connection with this decision, the mechanism for imposing sanctions, which operated in PACE before, has now been canceled.

Members of the Assembly noted the need to ensure the rights and obligations of PACE member states to represent and participate in both statutory bodies of the Council of Europe – the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly. The resolution states that all parliamentary delegations use the same rights under the rules of procedure and, therefore, are subject to the same obligations under procedures that apply equally to all delegations. “The rights of members to vote, speak and represent in the Assembly and its bodies shall not be suspended or revoked in the conditions of appeal or review of powers,” the resolution states. Thus, previously imposed sanctions against the Russian delegation are removed. Members of the permanent delegation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine tried to make changes to the draft resolution, but they did not find support. In total 220 amendments were considered, which the vast majority were rejected. Individual edits were withdrawn by their authors. The review of the edits lasted about four hours[1].

During the consideration of the amendments, proposals were made to postpone the vote to the next day, as the meeting dragged on after midnight, and in fact it was already next day. However, the President of the PACE, Liliane Maury Pasquier insisted on the continuation of the meeting. In addition, Ukrainian parliamentarians proposed to postpone for six months the implementation of the provisions of the resolution, but this proposal did not find support. There was also a debate on the draft resolution before the vote. Representatives of the Ukrainian delegation noted that since the annexation of Crimea, the Assembly has adopted 7 resolutions with specific requirements for Russia to restore the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, but Russia has not fulfilled any requirement. These arguments were not considered by the majority of the members of the Assembly.[2]

Thus, two camps were formed in Ukraine which were divided with the vision of whether we should stay in the PACE. For example, the party "Servant of the People" opposes the withdrawal of the Ukrainian delegation from the PACE, despite Russia's return to this organization. This was stated by the head of the party, Dmitry Razumkov in an interview with "Ukrainian Radio". "The position of the "Servant of the People" party is that it is not advisable to leave PACE now, because in the future, when we will go to the Parliament, we will not be able to represent Ukraine in this arena. It’s not constructive to turn around and leave," he said. According to Razumkov, the decision to return Russia was preceded by "a number of different actions, and often inaction, including on the part of Ukraine." "But everything is changing and the position of the new Parliament will be able to influence further events"[3], he believes.

There is another opinion. Hryhoriy Perepelytsya, Director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in an interview with the magazine "Krayina" notes: "The Council of Europe having returned the Russian delegation to PACE betrayed its own values, which it is designed to embody, for which Ukrainians died on the Maidan and die at the front in the war with Russia. If we return to PACE, we will recognize that the occupation of Crimea was legitimate, that the pro-fascist political regime in Russia is normal. This will be our surrender. Of course, Ukraine should stop its activities in PACE. How can we return when six countries - Estonia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia and Georgia have also withdrawn their delegations with us? They did it because of us and for us. We should continue to work in other organizations. There is the NATO, the United Nations, the European Union, the OSCE. We must use force means of diplomatic pressure, one of which is the withdrawal from PACE."

On July 1, it became known that the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Foreign Affairs recommended the Parliament not to participate temporarily in the PACE. According to "Interfax-Ukraine", the membership needs to stop until the Venice Commission's conclusions are obtained. "We propose to stop the work of the Ukrainian delegation in PACE until the conclusions of the Venice Commission and recommend not to resume work until the fulfillment important points that have been in all resolutions adopted by PACE over the past five years," the head of the Ukrainian delegation in PACE, Volodymyr Ariev made a statement at the meeting of the Committee.[4]

On July 2, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Andriy Parubiy canceled an invitation for PACE to monitor early parliamentary elections in Ukraine. This was reported by the head of the Ukrainian delegation in PACE, Volodymyr Ariev. In turn, Parubiy confirmed that he had signed a letter to the President of the PACE, Liliane Maury Pasquier on the withdrawal of the invitation for international observers from PACE at the early parliamentary elections. "Among the international observers, there can not be representatives from the aggressor country – Russia, who will not be observers, but agents of Putin's hybrid war. Russia's influence on the Ukrainian elections in any way is not acceptable," he explained.[5]

In turn, the pre-election delegation of the PACE has terminated its work in Ukraine ahead of schedule. According to the "European Truth", this is stated in the statement on the website of the Assembly. PACE delegation was in Kyiv on July 2-3 to assess the pre-election situation before the early parliamentary elections in Ukraine, which will be held on July 21. President of the PACE, Liliane Maury Pasquier expressed regret over the decision of the Verkhovna Rada and stressed that Ukraine, as a member of the Council of Europe, is under the monitoring procedure of the Assembly and has the obligation to offer the Assembly to monitor the presidential and parliamentary elections.[6]

Of course, to pretend that nothing has happened and swallow the geopolitical “drain” of Ukraine is a complete surrender to the Russian Federation. It is important to understand that from the beginning Ukraine was in a weaker geopolitical role. This awareness does not in any way determine the strategy of capitulation, but should add an understanding of our initial positions and influence the direct implementation of domestic foreign policy.

Today, Kyiv has lost the geopolitical struggle: the PACE decision is a signal that Ukraine should change the principles of its own foreign policy. Our ideological goals remain the same: Ukraine should become a member of the EU and the NATO. However, the goals should not become the only instruments on which Ukrainian diplomacy should be based.

The Ukrainian delegation has already announced the termination of work in PACE to express its own protest against the decision of the Assembly. Now it is important to intensify diplomacy for a certain “geopolitical blackmail” of the Council of Europe, while understanding our own place in the system of international relations, the real means that we can use and the real goals that we want to achieve.[7]

Therefore, we can characterize the situation in this way – Europe surrendered its position to Russia, a full exchange of prisoners did not happen, although it was a condition for the return of Russia to the PACE. In the pure state backstage agreements were held between Merkel, Macron and Putin, who completely ignored the interests of Ukraine. Thus, Ukraine's decision to leave PACE is correct, since PACE has completely discredited itself as an international organization.



[2] Ibid.