War in Ukraine: Follow up
The Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine, and the events that preceded the attack, notably the recognition by Russia of the so-called “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk has been at the centre of the Council of Europe’s attention since the very start of the rising tensions. All along, all the institutions of the Organisation have reiterated their unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.
The recognition by the Russian Federation of the self-proclaimed “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent entities on 22 February 2022, and the armed attack on Ukraine by the Russian Federation two days later, on 24 February, have been condemned in the strongest possible terms by all leaders of the organisation. The Council of Europe reacted quickly to the flagrant violation of international law and its Statute: already on 25 February 2022, following an exchange of views with the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of Ministers decided to suspend the Russian Federation from the Council of Europe in accordance with Article 8 of the Statute.
On 1 and 4 March 2022, the European Court of Human Rights indicated interim measures to the Russian Federation under Rule 39 of its Rules, focusing on respect and guarantee of the right to life and other human rights enshrined in the European Convention.
The Court has called on Russia to refrain from military attacks against civilians and civilian buildings and vehicles within the territory under attack or siege by Russian troops, including residential premises, emergency vehicles and other specially protected civilian objects such as schools and hospitals, and to ensure immediately the safety of medical establishments, personnel and emergency vehicles. It has indicated that the Russian authorities should ensure unimpeded access of the civilian population to safe evacuation routes, healthcare, food and other essential supplies, rapid and unconstrained passage of humanitarian aid and movement of humanitarian workers.
The Council of Europe has also called on the Russian authorities to comply with the principles and values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law on its own soil.
On 15 March, the Parliamentary Assembly unanimously adopted an Opinion which considered that the Russian Federation can no longer be a Member State of the Organisation. Earlier on the same day, the Government of the Russian Federation had informed the Secretary General of its withdrawal from the Council of Europe, in accordance with Article 7 of the Statute of the Council if Europe and of its intention to denounce the European Convention on Human Rights.
On 16 March, at an extraordinary meeting, the Committee of Ministers decided, in the context of the procedure launched under Article 8 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, that the Russian Federation would immediately cease to be a member of the Council of Europe, ending its 26 years of membership.