Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has outlined several concerns to the Russian Ambassador to Ireland regarding the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Following a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee with the Russian Ambassador to Ireland, Yuriy Filatov, the Wicklow TD said:
“As a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, I availed of the opportunity to engage with the Russian Ambassador for the second time in a week on Irish concerns relating to the crisis in Ukraine and the plans for Russian naval drills that were originally scheduled to take place in Irish waters.
“I once again emphasised the fact that Ireland is a neutral country, but one with the potential to play a vital role in international affairs. And from this perspective I once emphasised the need for calm, for a de-escalation of tensions around Ukraine, and a comprehensive diplomatic engagement committed to finding a peaceful solution.
“Sinn Féin is committed to the principles that the international community has enshrined in the UN charter.
“We unreservedly support the independence of individual nations. We support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations according to their internationally recognised borders.
“I also used the opportunity to seek an assurance from the Ambassador that Russia would commit to utilising all available diplomatic platforms to find the means to de-escalate the current crisis in Ukraine.
“I also acknowledged the decision by Russia to relocate the site of the exercises which had been planned for off the Southern coast of Ireland, however I repeated my view that it would have been far better if they were cancelled in their entirety.
“There has been quite a lot of concern around the proximity of trans-Atlantic cable to the original site for the exercises, there is a clear view that this could be viewed as being provocative.
“I also questioned the Ambassador as to whether believed that the naval drills could have been viewed as an attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in the defence capabilities of Ireland, aimed at sending a message to both the EU and NATO.
“With Russia taking over the Presidency of the UN Security Council, I believe that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has an important role in pushing all sides to search for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine.
“I have asked the Russian Ambassador to detail what Russia’s priorities for its Presidency will be. Specifically, in relation to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and Afghanistan, and I would hope that Ireland and Russia would co-operate on the UNSC to address the findings and recommendation of the report published by Amnesty International earlier this week.
“I believe that this offers an opportunity to bring about a real effort to implement an arms embargo on Israel and support the re-establishment of the UN General Assembly Committee on Apartheid, to address the cruel and inhumane treatment being meted out to the Palestinian people.”