ANALYSIS: Russian Walkout of Council of Europe Parliament Won’t Harm Moscow

MOSCOW, April 3 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will suffer no significant impact if it withdraws from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), experts told RIA Novosti Thursday.

According to Leonid Polyakov, the head of the political science department at the Moscow Higher School of Economics, PACE is not an international discussion platform, but a “place where decisions made in Washington are announced.”

He added that Russia should not face any problems if it withdraws from PACE.

“If members of PACE are fine with the scenario when contacts with Russia are kept to a minimum or do not exist at all, I believe we shouldn’t have any troubles. Business ties will remain,” Polyakov said.

“Besides, all sane people in Europe realize that there is no way you can wrench Russia away from Europe and vice versa. On a level of personal human ties there is an understanding that it is all meaningless,” he concluded.

Fyodor Lukyanov, the head of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy in Moscow, thinks that Russia’s withdrawal from PACE will negatively impact both sides.

“European institutions do not have much practical sense, but they weave the fabric of European politics, which acts as a playing field for a bigger game. The more elements, including membership in such organizations you have, the bigger the toolset you can use for this game,” he said.

Europe is trying to use PACE to compensate for its own reluctance to impose real economic sanctions on Russia, Lukyanov claimed.

“The paradox is that the EU doesn’t want any economic measures to be taken against Russia, so much that it sabotages them in every possible way, despite pressure from the US,” Lukyanov said.

“At the same time, Brussels is compensating for the lack of economic sanctions by taking political ones. The Council of Europe and PACE are an arena where you can act out the situation politically to display the extent of European outrage,” Lukyanov said.

The April session of PACE will be held next week in Strasbourg. A number of PACE delegates from Western countries have already spoken in favor of suspending the Russian delegation’s powers due to its stance on events in Ukraine.

Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, adopted a resolution on Tuesday warning the assembly from making such a decision. Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian delegation, said that Russian delegates would walk out of the assembly at the first sign of a vote on their sanctioning.


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