MOSCOW, February 26. /TASS/. The contacts between Russia and the European Union have not officially stopped, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on the YouTube channel Soloviev Live on Saturday.
"Officially, we do not have them severed. We have received a decision on the Council of Europe, but it is not a national quality, but the organization where we no longer belong to," she said in response to a question.
On Friday, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided to suspend Russia from its rights of representation in the Committee of Ministers and in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
It is the second time when the Council of Europe suspends Russia’s rights. In April 2014, following Crimea’s reunification with Russia, the Russian delegation to the PACE was deprived of the right to vote, to take part in PACE monitoring missions and to be elected to the Assembly’s steering bodies. Russia resumed full-fledged work within the PACE in 2019.
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in order to protect people "who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years." The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories. Its objective is demilitarization and denazification of the country.
When clarifying the unfolding developments, the Russian Defense Ministry reassured that Russian troops are not targeting Ukrainian cities, but are limited to surgically striking and incapacitating Ukrainian military infrastructure. There are no threats whatsoever to the civilian population.