Putin threat – Ireland says Russian war games off its coast ‘not welcome’
In Brussels, Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney told reporters that the exercises are due to take place 240 kilometers (150 miles) off Ireland’s southwest coast, in international waters but also within the country’s exclusive economic zone.
“We don’t have a power to prevent this happening but certainly I’ve made it clear to the Russian ambassador in Ireland that it’s not welcome,” Coveney said, as he arrived for talks focused on Russia and Ukraine with his EU counterparts in Brussels.
“This isn’t a time to increase military activity and tension in the context of what’s happening with and in Ukraine,” he said.
He acknowledged that Russia can hold war games in international waters, “but the fact that they are 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.”
It is not the first time a Russian operation near the British Isles has sparked anger.
Back in 2017, as well as in the summer of 2021, a Russian spy ship that can allegedly cut undersea cables was also spotted off the Irish coastline.
Mr Putin’s Yantar vessel, which was seen north of Mayo and Donegal, was right by a commercial sub-sea cable.
These cables carry huge volumes of Internet traffic – emails, images, files, data and communications between Europe and the US.