Ukraine called on Europe’s top human rights body on Monday to expel Russia, and the European Union imposed fresh sanctions on Moscow, targeting steel, energy and luxury sectors, along with powerful oligarchs, including Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich.
Speaking by video link, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal urged lawmakers from the 46-member Council of Europe to kick out Moscow — describing the human suffering from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and warning of more to come.
Shmyhal called on the Council’s parliamentary assembly to immediately oust Russia from the body. Those who support an unprovoked and unjustified aggression cannot stay within this European family, he said, where human life is the highest value.
The prime minister earned strong applause from the Council, which is separate from the European Union. Based in Strasbourg, France, Europe's top human rights watchdog has already suspended Russia’s right of representation. Moscow appeared to preempt further steps by saying last week it would no longer participate in the body, which it joined in 1996.
Still, Council of Europe lawmakers are meeting in a special session to consider further steps, including formally terminating Russia’s membership — which would be a first in the organization's seven-decade history.
“Not only has the Russian army crossed the borders of Ukraine in an illegal and aggressive way, but it has crossed the red lines of this organization,” Assembly President Tiny Kox said.
Meanwhile, the EU's rotating president, France, confirmed the 27-member bloc had adopted a fourth set of sanctions against Russia, targeting its iron, steel and energy industries, along with luxury good exports to Moscow.
It also followed Britain and Australia in adding Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich to a growing list of Russian oligarchs targeted for sanctions.
"This will be another major blow to the economic and logistic base upon which the Kremlin is building the invasion and taking the resources to finance it,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
Experts warn that Europe will also pay for its measures against Moscow through slowed growth and higher pump and heating prices. European leaders are warning their citizens to prepare for belt-tightening.