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EU Threatens Russia With New Sanctions Over Savchenko Detention

European MPs have declared an "illegal kidnapping" of the Ukrainian pilot detained by Russian authorities, and further demand Nadezhda Savchenko's release

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In a plenary session on Thursday in Strasbourg, the  European Parliament adopted a resolution that condemns Russia over the detention of Ukrainian pilot Hope Savchenko. The resolution goes on to warn Russia of possible impending sanctions, as well as prosecution, should the detention continue.  

Calling for the “immediate and unconditional release of Nadezhda Savchenko”, the European Parliament harshly condemned the Russian Federation for what the body deemed “its illegal kidnapping, and confinement” of the Ukraine pilot without trial for almost a year. European MPs brought in commitments to the Minsk agreements as well, citing a paragraph that discusses the exchange of prisoners according to the principle "all for all".  The EU body suggests Russia has no legal jurisdiction to take action against the pilot accused of complicity in the June 17 killing of two Russian journalists, Igor Kornelyuk, and sound producer Anton Voloshin, who died during a mortar attack on a rebel checkpoint outside Luhansk.

<figcaption>The Parliament's hemicycle (debating chamber) during a plenary session in Strasbourg</figcaption>
The Parliament's hemicycle (debating chamber) during a plenary session in Strasbourg

Russia's Investigative Committee has pointedly referred to the pilots actions as a gunner aboard an Aidar Batallion chopper, a position from which she allegedly reported the journalists’ location directing fire for the mortar attack that killed the men outside Lugansk. The European Commission spokespersons this week addressed their side of the situation:

"The European Parliament considers that the detention of Savchenko is a violation of the Geneva Convention; we therefore stress that those responsible for her illegal detention in Russia may be subject to international sanctions or prosecution for their actions.”

MEPs also cited Savchenko for having an outstanding military record, and the fact she was the only woman in the Ukrainian peacekeeping contingent in Iraq. She was also the first woman admitted to the Academy of the air force of Ukraine. The parliamentarians also noted the Ukraine pilot is eligible for diplomatic immunity based on her  being a member of Parliament and member of his country's delegation to PACE.

Also within this resolution are demands for the immediate release of all other Ukrainian citizens illegally detained in Russia, including Ukrainian film Director Oleg Sentsov and son of the leader of the Crimean Tatars Hauser Dzhemilev. The European Parliament "urges the President of France and Chancellor of Germany and the foreign Ministers of these countries to raise the issue of the release of Savchenko at the next meeting of the contact group on the implementation of the Minsk agreements in the "channel" format.

Finally, the high representative of the Union for foreign Affairs and the foreign service of the Union has been given a mandate to closely monitor the situation around Savchenko, to raise this issue in meetings with representatives of the Russian authorities in a variety of formats and report to the European Parliament on the results of these efforts.


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