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The Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov. Sasko Lazarov

Coveney summons Russian ambassador to express Ireland's 'strong views' on actions in Ukraine

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney says that Russia is in “severe breach” of international law.

LAST UPDATE | 23 Feb 2022

THE RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR to Ireland has been summoned to the Department of Foreign Affairs with Minister Simon Coveney saying he will underline this country’s “strong views” on Russia’s actions in Ukraine. 

Speaking in the Dáil this evening, Coveney said that Russia’s recognition of two separatist regions of Ukraine was a “severe breach of international law” and has prompted sanctions that were “clearly warranted”. 

Amid claims the Ireland’s IFSC was being used as a “funnel” for Russian oligarch money, Coveney said that this State would “ensure that all EU sanctions are implemented here, including in respect to financial services and the IFSC.”

Yesterday, EU sanctions were announced that targeted Russian parliament members who backed recognising the breakaway regions as independent. 

The Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov has said that EU sanctions will result in ‘proportionate’ response from Moscow. 

Coveney said today that Filatov would be summoned to Iveagh House this evening to express Ireland’s displeasure at his country’s actions in Ukraine

“The decisions which Russia has already taken this week to violate the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine, stand as a severe breach of international law and international agreements. Agreements that Russia has signed,” Coveney said. 

Together with our EU partners. We have urged Russia to reverse its recognition, hold its commitment, abide by international law, and return to meaningful negotiations and dialogue without delay.

He added: “I’ve instructed senior officials in my department to summon the Russian ambassador this evening to underline Ireland’s strong views on these issues.”  

Responding to Coveney, Sinn Fein’s John Brady TD welcomed the Ukrainian Ambassador who was present in the chamber and said it was a “very, very difficult time” for Ukraine. 

“It is very difficult to overstate the significance of what is actually happening in Ukraine and of the dangers that Russian aggression holds for international peace,” he said. 

I want to take the opportunity to restate my party’s commitment to the principles inherent in the United Nations resolution 262 adopted by the General Assembly of the UN on the 27 March 2014. In relation to the territorial integrity of Ukraine and its sovereignty. 

Dáil motion 

In the Dáil earlier today, Taoiseach Micheal Martin also backed a call for the Dáil to vote soon to formally criticise Russia’s actions. 

Martin was speaking in response to Labour leader Alan Kelly TD who pushed for a Dáil motion to condemn Russia’s “neo-colonial’ actions in Ukraine. 

Kelly said that such a vote would be a chance for parties to ”show their colours” on the issue. 

“I hope there will be cross party support for a motion and I’m formally asking you Taoiseach that you will put forward a motion to this house that we can all support. We want to avoid war but it is clear it is clear who the aggressor is,” he said.

Martin backed the call for the Dáil motion, saying: 

Russia’s behaviour deserves the unequivocal condemnation of everyone in this house, and our support as a country for Ukrainian sovereignty, territorial integrity and right to choose its own foreign security policies is unwavering.

aib-allied-irish-bank-international-centre-headquarters-of-aib-capital-markets-and-the-ifsc-on-the-river-liffey-dublin The IFSC in Dublin. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Kelly also said €118 billion was funnelled through Dublin to Russia between 2005 and 2017 and that Ireland risked becoming a channel to “funnel corrupt, dirty, Russian oligarch money”. 

“If sanctions in the UK, US and EU lead to a clampdown on Russian billionaires, there’s a likelihood that oligarchs under shell companies, thousands of them, may seek to use Ireland to continue to funnel the money,” he said.  

Also speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald that criticised what she said was the “clear the breach of international law by Russia” which she said “cannot stand”. 

“The mounting prospect of war in Ukraine, the potential for horrific loss of life, the clear breach of international law by Russia cannot stand, and sanctions are appropriate and absolutely necessary,” she said. 

McDonald also raised “serious concerns” that sanctions against Russia would impact on “soaring cost of living”.

Speaking earlier today, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe ruled out further measures to tackle the rising cost of living before the October Budget, even if energy prices rise due to the crisis in Ukraine.

Russian money 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Donohoe was asked about Ireland’s role in implementing sanctions on Russia, saying ‘there is a level’ of Russian money traded here. 

“If a country has a large financial services sector, and values that and we do here in Ireland – it’s a really big employer in the Irish economy – that does mean that we’ve international capital and international money in Ireland and, yes, there is indeed a level of Russian capital traded in and out of our IFSC,” Donohoe said. 

Donohoe said that the government has already changed the law on tax, while also updating anti-money laundering legislation, in response to concerns.

Donohoe said that a war in Europe would have a detrimental impact on the Irish and European economy.

However, he once again ruled out further measures to tackle the rising cost of living before the October Budget, even if energy prices rise due to the crisis in Ukraine.

He added that he knew that companies were concerned about the impact of sanctions on business.

“I think it’s very understandable for companies that are involved in sectors that have particular links with either exports or imports that come from Russia, or go to Russia, are of course concerned about what a war or sanctions could mean,” he said.

“If you look at where our economy stands overall, our exports to Russia are approximately 1% of our national income. Our imports from Russia are approximately 0.5% of our national income. But inside that 0.5%, there are sectors that do have a little bit more of a reliance on Russia than other sectors would.

It’s understandable that they would raise concerns regarding what could happen, but we are making these decisions inside the context of the security and the ability of states to determine their own future being threatened by unacceptable and illegal behaviour. And Ireland does need to be part of the response to that.

- With reporting by Press Association

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