Irish citizens urged to avoid non-essential travel to Ukraine

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Irish citizens are advised to avoid non-essential travel to Ukraine, it has been announced.

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Tuesday the advice came in light of continuing tensions on the Eastern European country’s border with Russia.

He also said the Russian Navy’s planned exercises off the coast of Ireland were “unwelcome”.

Reiterating Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney, the Taoiseach told the Dail: “The holding of military exercises in international waters off our coasts is not welcome. And there is an ecological problem here.

Russian artillery drills in early February will take place in international waters but in Irish-controlled airspace and the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

On Monday, Russia’s ambassador to Ireland called the plans “a non-story”.

Yury Filatov played down the importance of the drills after concerns were raised by the Irish government.

Mr Martin dismissed his suggestion that such training drills were a “regular occurrence”.

Mr Martin, responding to several questions from the TDs about the tensions, said: “Ireland accepts Ukrainian territorial integrity.

“Our principles of approach to the Russian-Ukrainian situation are to accept and, of course, to adhere to this international order based on fundamental rules.

“We want a diplomatic solution to this. We want this to be defused. We don’t believe it requires the mustering of so many hundreds of thousands of troops.

“It does not require a war or an invasion or the violation of Ukrainian territorial integrity.

“I think the world would breathe a collective sigh of relief because the world is trying to get through Covid-19 and all of its implications and now to get through another crisis, which could come as a result of an invasion, I think this would be very, very difficult for the world as a whole to manage.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett told The Dail that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “thug and an autocrat”.

However, he asked: “Of course we should condemn what Russia is doing, but why is there no condemnation, from a country that is supposed to be neutral, on a clear program of Russia? NATO to Expand East and Raise Military Tensions with Russia? ”

Mr. Martin denied the request.

“I don’t think NATO is aggressive here,” he said.

Previously, fishermen planning to peacefully disrupt Russian military exercises off Ireland were warned not to put themselves in danger.

Patrick Murphy, chief executive of the Southern and West Irish Fish Producers Organisation, said some of its members were planning to hold a protest.

He described the exercise area as “very important” for fishing and said members wanted to protect biodiversity.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar after a Cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle on Tuesday (Niall Carson/PA)

Asked about the fishermen’s plans, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday: “I haven’t had the opportunity to speak to any of the fishermen operating in this area.

“I guess I would just tell them they are military ships. Whatever they choose to do in terms of protests, just make sure they don’t put themselves in harm’s way.

Russian military exercises off Ireland
Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov at the Russian Embassy in Dublin on Monday (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr Varadkar said Ireland was powerless to stop the drills.

“But we have made it very clear that these exercises are not welcome, especially in the current context, when tensions are rising in relation to Ukraine,” he added.

“It is communicated to them very strongly. There are no plans to send Irish troops to Ukraine. It was not discussed.

Mr Varadkar said the Cabinet had received a full briefing from Mr Coveney on fears Russia would invade Ukraine.

“It is very serious. There is a real fear that we could see a ground war on the European continent,” the Fine Gael leader added.

“We hadn’t seen this for a very long time.

“Besides the humanitarian impact, it could also have an economic impact on us.

“We had a full briefing on that today. We coordinate our response, of course, with our European partners and our UN partners.

“The Russian exercises off Cork and Kerry, while not illegal, are not welcome.

“We don’t believe they are related to the events in Russia and Ukraine, but we would certainly prefer if they didn’t happen.”

In accordance with legal requirements, Russia informed the Irish aviation authorities in advance of the planned activities.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) said there would be no impact on the safety of civil aircraft operations.

On Tuesday evening, Mr Coveney warned that the situation was “extremely serious”.

“The tension between Russia and Ukraine, the threat of an invasion of Ukraine, is something that the EU, the US and the UK all take incredibly seriously.

“This could be the first ground war in Europe that we have seen in many decades,” he warned.

“This could lead to enormous loss of life and, of course, extraordinary disruption across the entire European continent.

“And that’s why Ireland has consistently spoken about the need to de-escalate tensions, to focus on diplomacy and political dialogue, as opposed to military build-up and we will continue to be that voice.”

He told RTE’s Six One that the EU was “unified” on the deterrence needed to avoid a Russian invasion.

He said: “Because if they did that, I think the response, from a sanctions perspective coming from the European Union, would be very, very comprehensive, going way beyond anything we’ve done. lately.”

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