Concern raised over planned Russian naval exercises off Irish coast

Concern raised over planned Russian naval exercises off Irish coast

CONCERN HAS been raised by the Minister for Foreign Affairs over planned Russian naval exercises which are scheduled to take place off the Irish coast next month.

The exercises are to take place between 3 February and 8 February within Ireland's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) 240km southwest of Cork.

However, the area where the exercises are planning to be held are not in Ireland's territorial waters.

The Irish Aviation Authority has raised concerns that the drill will include a "live-fire" exercise.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said that under international law, "including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, states are entitled to carry out naval exercises in other state's EEZ."

"The Irish Aviation Authority was informed of the exercise via standard procedures and has issued a statement to that effect," the statement continued.

"In light of the current political and security environment in Europe, the Department of Foreign Affairs has raised a number of concerns with the Russian authorities in respect of these exercises."

It said discussions in relation to the exercises will continue over the coming days.

Separately, EU Foreign Minister will meet today in Brussels, where Minister Simon Coveney expects "discussions to be dominated by the security situation in Europe, with a particular focus on Russia and Ukraine," he said.

During these discussion, Coveney said he will "briefly inform" his EU colleagues about the planned Russian naval exercises.

"More broadly, I will reiterate our full support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and will call again on Russia to de-escalate tensions and engage constructively in dialogue."

The department has also updated its travel advice for Ukraine over the weekend, in line with many other EU Member States.

"We are recommending that Irish citizens avoid non-essential travel to the country at this time.

"We continue continue to recommend that Irish citizens living in or travelling to Ukraine register with the Embassy of Ireland in Kyiv," the statement concluded.

Russia has stationed about 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine, with Vladimir Putin listing demands including a NATO pledge never to admit Ukraine and a pullback of NATO troops in Eastern Europe.

On Friday, the Ambassador of Russia to Ireland Yury Filatov met with Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces Seán Clancy to discuss armed contact between Ireland and Russia.