Russia and Belarus suspended from Council of the Baltic Sea States
Russia and Belarus have been suspended from the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) in response to what the body called the “unprovoked and illegal war” against Ukraine.
Members of the Council, a regional forum for cooperation among the 11 Baltic Sea states and the EU, voted to suspend the two countries’ membership on Friday.
“The EU has joined members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) in suspending Russia and Belarus from the council’s activities,” the bloc said in a statement on Saturday, adding that the decision is part of the response by the EU and “like-minded partners” to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Belarus’ involvement.
It clarified that the suspension would remain in force “until it is possible to resume cooperation based on respect for fundamental principles of international law.”
Russia is a co-founder and Belarus is an observer state on the council, which also includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Sweden.
Responding to an earlier statement by the CBSS members, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow viewed “this demarche” as a “hostile step that runs counter to the spirit of Baltic cooperation and the legal foundations of the work of the council.”
Norway, which currently holds the presidency of the CBSS, had earlier announced its decision to freeze research and education cooperation with Moscow.
Russian forces attacked neighboring Ukraine on February 24 with Russian President Vladimir Putin citing the need for the “demilitarization” of the country and for protection of Russia’s security. The West has condemned the war and imposed harsh sanctions targeting various sectors of Russia’s economy.