Friday, June 28, 2019

Readmission of Russia to PACE a Shameful Act of Destruction of International System, Skobov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 26 – The decision of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Congress of Europe to readmit Russia as a full member despite Moscow’s failure to make any changes in the policies which caused PACE to suspend its membership earlier is not only shameful but thoroughly undermines the existing international system.

            Those who voted to seat Russia – and fortunately for the continent’s reputation – many national delegations did not – were swayed not only by the prospect of gaining money the organization needs from Moscow but also by two arguments both of which must be rejected, Aleksandr Skobov says (

            Some who voted to reseat the aggressor said that “punishing the Russian Federation for aggression is not part of the responsibilities of the Council of Europe,” the Moscow analyst says. Other organizations exist for that purpose; but it was not so long ago, that PACE itself voted to suspend Russia’s membership precisely on that basis.

            And others who voted to reseat Moscow declared that “no aggression by the Russian Federation must deprive its citizens of the possibility of appealing to the European Court.”  But in fact, Skobov says, that is precisely what must happen: “Citizens of an aggressor state must deal with the consequences of aggression by their country.”

            The citizens of such countries must lose not only that benefit but also “immunity from the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty,” Skobov says. They must recognize that what their government is doing abroad is putting their lives and welfare at risk. Otherwise they will have little reason to reject the arguments of the Kremlin that might makes right.

            But Skobov’s most important and damning observation is the following: “When existing international institutions begin to act in such a horrific contradiction with their declared principles, the international order based on them is irretrievably destroyed.  And any new one will have to be built from zero after the results of a global international crisis.”

            That is how the international system functions. No other possibility exists. “To correct the mistakes of the present-day European establishment and organize a new international order” is not going to be easy, and the system that appears most likely to emerge in the near future will not be an order based on laws but rather a jungle in which unpunished violence will rule.

            There is little positive anyone can say about what PACE has done in following the wishes of the leading countries of old Europe to go back to doing business with Russia as if its aggression in Ukraine had never happened and ultimately to ending the sanctions regime as Moscow now expects.

            But some in Europe, especially in the countries neighboring Russia, were not willing to go along. The resolution readmitting Russia to full membership passed by a vote of 116 for, 62 against, with 15 abstentions. (On the distribution of votes by country, see the map at

            And seven delegations – from Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine, all countries with sad experience of Russian actions past and present – have asked their governments to recall them from the Parliamentary Assembly in protest over when that body has done (

            But despite that protest, Putin and those like him who do not think that there should be any law higher than brute force have won, aided and abetted in old Europe by those who refuse to remember what happened the last time that principle was accepted and by the current leadership of the United States which wants all the powers of a hegemon without any of its responsibilities. 

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