The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has adopted a resolution titled "The Escalation of tensions around the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait and threats to European security", which calls for the immediate release of captured Ukrainian sailors, condemns construction of the Kerch Strait bridge and selective search of Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov, also supporting the idea Germany and France on the introduction of foreign observers in the Kerch Strait.
First of all, the resolution allows Ukraine to continue exerting pressure on Russia. After all, Moscow's failure to hear the calls and comply with PACE requirements may one day become one of the grounds for introducing new sanctions against Russia.
And it's quite predictable that Moscow won't comply. Never before did Russia take into account any other PACE resolutions or those of other organizations, so there is no reason to expect anything else this time.
Ukraine should use all diplomatic options available to constantly maintain the issue of Russian aggression on top international agenda. After all, what is happening in the Sea of Azov is a dangerous precedent not only for Ukraine but for the whole world. For example, China is now acting in nearby seas almost like Russia is in the Sea of Azov, which causes similar indignation among their neighbors. That is, such behavior of certain world powers in seas is a serious international problem.
First of all, the resolution allows Ukraine to continue exerting pressure on Russia. After all, Moscow's failure to hear the calls and comply with PACE requirements may one day become one of the grounds for introducing new sanctions against Russia
Demanding the release of captured Ukrainian sailors. Russia does not consider the detained Ukrainian sailors prisoners of war – they are being tried for general criminal offenses. And now it is not clear what could make the Kremlin decide on the release of the detainees. For example, if you recall the story with the Nadiia Savchenko, it still remains unclear what the main reason was for her release. There are not many examples of Russia releasing Ukrainian prisoners of war. In particular, we have seen that, despite a huge ongoing worldwide campaign for the release of Oleh Sentsov, the position of the international community and foreign politicians and organizations doesn't affect Moscow's stance in any way, so Sentsov is still serving time in a Russian prison.
Therefore, I'm afraid Ukrainian sailors will not be released anytime soon, and if they will, this won't be as a result of the PACE resolution. Putin always tries to demonstrate that any attempts to put pressure on him to make him take certain steps would only be harmful to the cause, so he remains to hold his ground.
Condemning construction of the Kerch Strait bridge. As regards this provision, it makes no sense either to expect any response or reaction on the part of Moscow. It won't blow it up, right? Russia firmly insists that Crimea and said waters are part of its territory, so Moscow will behave there as they see fit.
In fact, the Kerch Strait bridge was built specifically with the sight of eventually making the Sea of Azov Sea Russia's own inland sea.
Condemning selective searches of Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov. If the international community fails to introduce an effective sanction policy against all Russian ships checking in European ports, then Russia won't react, and their behavior with respect to Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov will not change. Again, Moscow does whatever it feels like so it simply ignores positions of international organizations.
In fact, the Kerch Strait bridge was built specifically with the sight of eventually making the Sea of Azov Sea Russia's own inland sea
Supporting proposal of Germany and France on foreign observers in the Kerch Strait. Although Lavrov claimed a week ago that Putin allegedly agreed to such an option, but experience shows that Putin often agrees on something, and then it turns out that he meant something else. If this case gets into a practical plane at least a bit, then it will be possible to discuss the issue. So far, this is just a statement of intent, no more.
What is the point in such resolutions if we all understand that Russia will not comply? Ukraine is contributing to this and will continue doing so for the sake of certain processes that will take place in the future. Anyway, sooner or later, justice will be on our side. Meanwhile, we have to create legislative, legal, and other bases for future litigation, which in the long run will necessarily be launched.
Besides, it's about a reminder, maintaining the Ukraine issue on top agenda in the international arena. Ukraine shouldn't forget that the EU and other western partners has a lot of own issues to take care about beyond the Ukraine question. So, consideration of Ukrainian issues at the PACE and adoption of resolutions that are in our interest keeps the world aware of the fact that the issue is yet to be resolved. Moreover, it is a threat to the whole world, not only Ukraine.
Oleksiy Holobutsky is a political scientist, deputy head of the Situation Modeling Agency