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21st Mar 2022

“We don’t have fighter jets” – Eamon Ryan outlines Ireland’s limited response to Ukraine invasion

Dave Hanratty

Eamon Ryan Vladimir Putin

“Other countries, those that do have the capability to enforce a no-fly zone, have said clearly that they will not do that.”

Eamon Ryan has said that Ireland will continue to endorse the strongest possible sanctions against Russia following its Government-authorised invasion of Ukraine, though he noted we can only do so much.

In conversation on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 on Monday (21 March), Minister Ryan outlined the realities of Ireland’s ability or lack thereof to directly intervene in the conflict.

“We don’t have fighter jets,” he said, later reiterating a previous statement when saying that “one of the best ways we can actually take on this Putin regime is to stop sending the hundreds of millions of euros we send every day for the imported coal, oil and gas that Russia exports and helps fund this war”.

Amidst fresh calls from citizens on the ground for a no-fly zone to be implemented, it was put to Ryan that Ukraine doesn’t have the benefit of time.

“No, and that’s why I think the strictest sanctions have ever been applied, including the restrictions on the assets in the Russian central bank, which will have real impact, will have real effect,” he responded.

“That noose being tightened is the right approach.

“Other countries, those that do have the capability to enforce a no-fly zone, have said clearly that they will not do that.

“Militarily, that would see a potential escalation of the conflict that they are not willing to countenance, but what we can do and what Ireland has done from the very start – the Taoiseach attended the first European Council meeting on this and we were on the side of those who argued for the strongest possible actions.”

Quizzed on the matter of Ryanair reportedly charging air fares to those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, Minister Ryan praised the airline for helping the Government during Covid-19 and said he will speak to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and the Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko on the matter.

“I wanted to listen to the Ukrainian Government first,” Ryan said.

“Let me first of all talk to the ambassador and then I’ll talk to Ryanair without doubt,” he added.

On the subject of Ireland’s long-established military neutrality, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar recently encouraged some debate on that front with his comments in Dáil Éireann at the beginning of March.

“This attack on Ukraine should be a wake-up call for all of us to defend our system and be willing to defend it, because a system worth building is worth defending,” he said.

“If the European Union was worth building, it’s worth defending. And if our independence is worth securing, it’s also worth defending.

“I don’t agree that we should increase defence spending up to €3 billion; I think that would be too much. There are other priorities and other demands,” Varadkar continued.

“But I do think we need to increase defence spending. We need to pay our military personnel more. We need better equipment. We need to be able to guard our own seas. We need to be able to have radar over our own airspace.

“And the assumption that we have made, for 70 years now, is that nobody would attack us because we’re a country that’s neutral militarily – Ukraine was neutral militarily, it wasn’t part of any military alliance.

“It was attacked because it was politically part of the West, or at least wanted to be. And we make the assumption that even if we are attacked; the British and the Americans will come and save us anyway.

“And I’m not sure that’s the kind of assumption a sovereign country like ours should make.”

Featured Image of Eamon Ryan via Sam Boal /

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