In 2017-2019, Moscow deliberately sought to aggravate relations with the Council of Europe and the European Union, which runs the international organisation. The stakes were high. Russia stopped multi-million-euro payments to the organisation’s budget in order to force the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE to lift the sanctions it had imposed on the delegation of Russia’s Federal Assembly. Moscow insisted that blacklisting members should be impossible in principle and that its delegation be invited to resume participation in the Council’s work on an equal and non-discriminatory basis. This financial blackmail plunged the CoE into a severe financial crisis, and forced Brussels to make a difficult decision.
It was had to decide: either PACE would surrender and make concessions to the ‘hated authoritarian regime’, or ties between Moscow and Strasbourg would be severed, with far-reaching geopolitical consequences. These consequences were easy to calculate. The West was set to lose one of its last channels of influence on Moscow. The degree of confrontation in Europe would have escalated further. Russia's was expected to drift towards Asia and foster rapprochement with China, frightening the EU and NATO. Those who had continued to dream of a hypothetical legal, economic and humanitarian family of nations stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean faced a rude awakening.
The EU has chosen the first option. At the Council’s Committee of Ministers meeting, they recognised that all states should have the opportunity to participate in the work of all the governing bodies of the CoE, including the assembly, on an equal and non-discriminatory basis. PACE obeyed. On the night of June 24-25, despite the fierce resistance from the delegations of Ukraine, Poland, Georgia, the UK and the Baltic countries, it voted to make the necessary changes to the rules of procedure and invited the delegation of the Federal Assembly to resume participation in PACE without any restrictions. Then, on June 26, it confirmed the contested powers of the Russian legislators.
However, for any victory you win, you have to pay. The price of this victory, if proactive measures aren’t taken, may be too high. Our Western partners also know how to calculate their moves and play multi-move combinations. They figured that by “surrendering” PACE, they lost absolutely nothing – the absence of the Russian delegation had only made its activities meaningless. However, it gets a lot of funding. In monetary terms, Russia owes the CE less than the 100 million euros. In political terms, it gets the opportunity to once again put pressure on Russia along parliamentary lines, criticise it for nothing, insist, demand and threaten.
This position has been unequivocally reflected in the PACE resolution on the recognition of powers. It includes an order for Moscow to accept all fact-finding missions, representatives of the Commission on Monitoring the implementation of commitments, and rapporteurs for individual cases. It lists all the violations committed by Moscow, for which it was proposed to take immediate action. The main thing is, it states that not later than next April, a synthesis report will be prepared on all that Moscow is charged with.
In fact, the EU, in PACE’s hands, is outwardly making concessions and accepting all Russia’s demands, but has in fact prepared the prerequisites for launching a new campaign to discredit Moscow, exerting systemic pressure on it from all directions, eliminating concessions from it, and thus increasing confrontation. Such a threat is quite real. The idea is an open secret. To verify this, it is enough to read the text of the resolution and listen to the recording of debates. Such a development must be prevented.