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Russian ambassador summoned as Govt's 'firm objection' to sanctions on politicians outlined

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the move to sanction Irish politicians was “classic Russian propaganda”.

LAST UPDATE | 17 Nov 2022

RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO Ireland Yuri Filatov was summoned to a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs today. 

This follows yesterday’s news that a host of Irish politicians had been sanctioned by Moscow and banned from entering Russia.

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, Minister of Justice Helen McEntee and Minister of Finance Paschal Donohoe were banned from entering the Russian Federation due to “the anti-Russian course of the Irish government.”

The statement, issued by the country’s Foreign Ministry at 11.26am Irish time yesterday, also bans Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil Seán Ó Fearghail, as well as dozens of unnamed senators and TDs.

It adds that “With regard to our other measures, we will be guided by the position of Dublin.”

The Russian Ambassador met with senior officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs this afternoon. 

The Government’s “firm objection to the unwarranted and unjustified travel ban imposed on Irish citizens” was conveyed during the meeting, the Department of Foreign Affairs said this evening. 

“Ireland’s position in respect of Russia’s illegal aggression against Ukraine was reiterated,” the Department said. 

“Ireland’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and it’s right to defend itself against this attack under Article 51 of the UN Charter, was also reiterated,” it said. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs was given a copy of the list of 52 citizens subject to the travel ban. It said it will be informing the individuals concerned but “will not be publishing the list”. 

Minister Coveney is consulting with senior officials this evening and further details will be brought to party leaders in Government in “due course”, the Department said. 

Earlier today, the Taoiseach said that Filatov was told by top Department officials that current behaviour by Russia was “absolutely unacceptable”.

“The message was conveyed to him that this behaviour by Russia is absolutely unacceptable and not the norm in a diplomatic situation to be really essentially engaging in propaganda, a form of hybrid warfare,” Martin said.

“So it’s unacceptable behaviour, that message has been conveyed today.”

The Taoiseach also said he had not seen the full list and had initially cast doubt on whether or not there were 52 individuals sanctioned, saying it was “classic Russian propaganda”.

“The key point is the nature of the action by the Russian Federation in sanctioning the Taoiseach of Ireland, and the Tanaiste and other ministers, it’s classic misinformation,” Martin said.

“I think it’s designed to try to undermine Ireland’s bona fides and the stance we’ve taken in relation to the war, the stance we’ve taken at European Union level, at the United Nations – where we haven’t pulled our punches in relation to the illegality and the immorality of this war – and that’s not to Russia’s liking.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne said it is still unclear as to who exactly is on this list of banned people. 

He said: “We don’t rise to the bait. I mean, there’s different ranges of reactions here. The ambassador has been called in to meet senior officials today and he’ll be asked for information about this because quite frankly, we don’t have the information.

“We don’t know who’s on the list, what the extent of it is, and why they would do this. But we do know that they’ve done this in a number of other countries where they’ve published just a handful of names and said, well, actually, there’s a lot more on the list, and then never published. So that’s a possible outcome here as well.”

Asked whether the way in which Russia went about issuing the sanctions showed disrespect to Ireland, Byrne added: “This is typical of the Russian Federation. This is the way they operate. They do this deliberately. It was done deliberately I would say.

“It was released while the Taoiseach was in the Dáil, the Taoiseach is then asked questions about it and he doesn’t know about it. I think the best approach is that the government looks at this carefully and talks to the ambassador today.” 

With reporting by Niall O’Connor and Press Association

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