On Friday, the European Parliament (EP) formally banned Russian and Belarusian officials from entering its premises, vowing support for Ukraine instead. Neither nation is a member of the body, which acts as the legislature of the European Union (EU).
“As of today, diplomatic and government staff of Russia and Belarus are banned from entering the premises of the [European Parliament],” the body’s president Roberta Metsola announced on Twitter.
“There is no place in the House of Democracy for those who seek to destroy the democratic order,” she added, concluding with the hashtag “Stand With Ukraine️.”
Metsola, a Maltese politician, was elected to the post in January. The EP has 705 members from the 27 countries of the EU. Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine are not members, though Kiev requested to join by a fast-track process after the start of hostilities with Moscow last month.
The symbolic ban presumably applies to the EP’s premises in both Brussels and Strasbourg, which it shares with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), another transnational body. Russia officially withdrew from PACE on Tuesday, accusing it of being a “convenient platform for NATO’s information and political campaigns.”
“Everything turned to ash and dust in the Council of Europe long ago. This organization has become just an instrument for NATO propaganda,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Sputnik radio on Tuesday.
PACE reacted to Moscow’s announcement by voting to expel Russia and issuing a statement lamenting how this would “deprive the Russian people of the benefit of the most advanced human rights protection system in the world, including the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.”
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.
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