Ireland tells Russia that naval exercises off Irish coast are "not welcome" 3 months ago

Ireland tells Russia that naval exercises off Irish coast are "not welcome"

"We don't have a power to prevent this happening."

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said that he has told the Russian ambassador in Ireland that planned naval exercises by Russia off the coast of Ireland are not welcomed by the Irish Government.

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Coveney will brief his EU counterparts on Monday on Russia's plans to hold naval exercises 240km off the southwest coast of Ireland in the first week of February.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers on Monday, which will almost certainly be dominated by rising tensions over the Ukraine, Coveney said he has made his position clear to the Russian ambassador.

"We don't have a power to prevent this happening," Coveney said.

"But certainly, I've made it clear to the Russian ambassador in Ireland that it's not welcome.

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"This isn't the time to increase military activity and tension in the context of what's happening with and in Ukraine at the moment, and so I think it's important that I would brief my colleagues on those intentions.

"Russia, under the International Law of the Sea, can of course undertake military exercises in international water, but the fact that they're choosing to do it on the western borders, if you like, of the EU off the Irish coast, is something that, in our view, is simply not welcome and not wanted right now, particularly in the coming weeks."

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Coveney stated that the naval exercises were allowed under law, but the timing of them was problematic given the current situation in Ukraine.

The EU is continuing to monitor the situation in the Ukraine but has said, at this moment, it will not follow the decision of the United States and the UK to withdraw diplomats’ families from Ukraine.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will brief the Foreign Affairs Council later today on his meetings with Russian and Ukrainian counterparts and is expected to push the EU to issue severe sanctions on Moscow.

Coveney said if Russia was to invade the Ukraine, there would be “very severe consequences” for Moscow from the EU “in terms of sanctions and restrictions".

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