The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted to ratify Russia’s full rights of being part of the organization after a six-year suspension caused by the Ukrainian crisis and the Russian annexation of Crimea. Russian officials can again take part inside the discussion of PACE after 96 PACE officials voted to support the reintegration, while 44 voted against it and another seven abstained from voting.
In 2014, due to the Ukrainian crisis which has affected the relation between Moscow and Brussels since the annexation of Crimea and the Kremlin’s support to the republics of Lugansk and Donetsk, PACE suspended Russia’s voting rights. As a consequence, the Kremlin decided to withdraw its delegation from PACE as a sign of protest. Subsequently, in 2017 the Russian Federation stopped its scheduled 32.8 million euro contribution to the Council of Europe’s annual budget.
Last year PACE partially restored Russia’s voting rights as the first step of rapprochement with the Kremlin. In fact, since this decision, the Russian Federation has satisfied several points of the Resolution 2292 (2019) that could have allowed the country’s return to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The recent prisoner exchange between Moscow and Kyiv underlined ‘some progress’ about the implementation of the Minsk Agreements whose goal is to mitigate the current situation in Ukraine.
Russia’s return to PACE might change the relations between Moscow and Brussels although the Ukrainian delegation protested against this decision and threatened to abandon PACE. The Ukrainian media have highlighted Russia’s returns to PACE and some Ukrainian analysts have stated that the Russian delegation might destabilize or weaken the Council of Europe.