Russia has been suspended from the European human rights organization because it invaded Ukraine, AP reports.
According to the report, the 47-nation council announced Friday that Russia was suspended with “immediate effect” from the organization’s Committee of Ministers and parliamentary assembly on Friday “as a result of the Russian Federation’s armed attack on Ukraine.”
The Strasbourg-based European human rights organization, which was founded in 1949, said Russia remained a member and continued to be bound by relevant human rights conventions.
The world has made it clear that military intervention in Ukraine is off the books, so most countries on Friday were throwing ever more punishment at Moscow — from financial to football sanctions.
The European Union could yet go furthest as it was closing in on freezing the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on top of a series of unprecedented measures.
But it was unclear how badly they would be hit by such a move or if it would be mainly symbolic.
A decision to freeze their assets indicates that Western powers are moving toward unprecedented measures to force Putin to stop the brutal invasion of Russia’s neighbour and from unleashing a major war in Europe.
“We are not just listing oligarchs, we haven’t just already listed many lawmakers who prepared these steps, but we are now also listing the president, Mr. Putin, and the foreign minister, Mr. Lavrov,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.
EU foreign ministers meeting late Friday would need full unanimity among the 27 member states to impose such a measure. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that if there are “no surprises, nobody objects and if there is unanimity then, yes certainly.” He added that “I am personally very much in favour.”
If the EU would go that far as freezing Putin’s assets in the EU, it would be “a unique step in history toward a nuclear power, a country that has a permanent seat on the Security Council, but also shows … how united we are,” Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said.
An equally big move would be to ban Putin and Lavrov from EU travel. But overnight, EU leaders made it clear that would be off the table for now, if only since it might complicate diplomatic moves once all sides get around the negotiating table.
EU ministers have said that even further sanctions were still possible, including booting Russia off SWIFT, the dominant system for global financial transactions.
“The debate about SWIFT is not off the table, it will continue,” Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said.
Undeterred in the game of punitive sanctions, Russia started its own tit-for-tat measures, banning British flights to and over its territory in retaliation to a similar U.K. ban on Aeroflot flights.
Yet with the Kremlin’s eyes fully targeted on expanding the attacks on Ukraine, almost of the action was still going one way.
EU leaders discussed until the early hours Friday any ways to hit Putin even harder than the two sets of sanctions that it already approved.
“We are hitting the regime at all levels and we are hitting it hardest,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said early Friday.
The EU and other Western powers like the United States and the United Kingdom have agreed on a slew of sanctions hitting everything from the banking sector to oil refineries and the defence sector. EU foreign ministers will push the approval process further later in the day.