Russia’s intention to deploy warships in marine exercises off the Irish coast has caused a wave of indignation from Dublin, with the country’s foreign minister claiming Russia is getting too far amid tensions across Europe.
Ireland considers undesirable military exercise that Russian warships are planning to conduct in the Atlantic Ocean, namely in the Irish Sea, as stated by the country’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.
“We have no way to prevent [the exercise], but I made it clear to the Russian ambassador to Ireland that this is not welcome. Now is not the time to increase military activity and tension,” he said during a meeting of the EU Council in Brussels.
As the Irish Sea is located between Ireland and Great Britain, it has serious strategic importance and is used for communications between the islands and coastal navigation along the coast.
According to the Foreign Minister, Russia has notified Dublin about the ongoing exercises, which will take place 240 kilometres from the southwest coast of Ireland, in international waters but within the exclusive economic zone of the country. Two ships from among those that will take part in the exercises in the Atlantic have already left the base in Baltiysk today.
Russian Ministry of Defence stated that the main objectives of the campaign are the participation of ships in naval exercises, as well as ensuring the naval presence and demonstration of the St. Andrew’s flag (aft flag of the Russian Navy ships) in various areas of the World Ocean. Also, on board the ships are anti-terror groups from the Marine Corps of the Baltic Fleet.
As specified, in total, over 140 warships and support vessels, more than 60 aircraft, 1 thousand units of military equipment, and about 10 thousand military personnel will take part in the exercises in the Atlantic.
According to the Russian Ambassador to Ireland, Yuri Filatov, the Irish authorities have no reason to worry about the upcoming naval exercises. As the diplomat told RIA Novosti, the story around the exercises is exaggerated.
“There is absolutely not the slightest reason for the Irish authorities to feel any concern about these rather short and limited-scale exercises, which are held annually, and no one ever has any problems,” the Ambassador said.
He stressed that the Irish authorities responsible for air traffic control and navigation have been notified in full compliance with all the rules in this regard.
“All the necessary aviation and maritime security requirements are being met,” the head of the Russian diplomatic mission said.
The Russian diplomat explained that during the exercises, some part of the exclusive economic zone of Ireland may be affected, which is absolutely consistent with the norms of international maritime law, and there are no prohibitions on this.
In addition, commenting on media reports that Ireland is concerned about its lack of radar equipment, the Ambassador stressed that this is absolutely an internal matter of Ireland and has nothing to do with either the exercises or Russia.
Filatov is convinced that the noise around the upcoming exercises fits into an information and propaganda campaign, the purpose of which is to inflate the idea of a certain threat from Russia to Europe.
“My advice to my European colleagues, including the Irish ones, is to look at how Europe could help the dialogue between Russia and the United States, as well as NATO, on really important and serious issues,” the Ambassador concluded.