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Ireland to expel four senior officials from Russian Embassy

Russian Ambassador Yury Filatov is not among those being expelled.

The Russian Embassy in Dublin has been the scene of frequent protests since the invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Embassy in Dublin has been the scene of frequent protests since the invasion of Ukraine.
Image: Rollingnews.ie

Updated Mar 29th 2022, 4:27 PM

IRELAND IS TO expel four “senior officials” from the Russian Embassy, with the government saying their actions have been against diplomatic standards. 

Russian Ambassador Yury Filatov is not among those being expelled but the Department of Foreign Affairs has said he was summoned to the department today and told of the decision. 

The move comes as a number of other EU nations have also today expelled Russian diplomats due to alleged espionage. 

The Russian Embassy here has rejected claims of “unacceptable” behaviour by its staff  and said Ireland’s decision “will not go unanswered”. 

Speaking in the Dáil, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the decision to expel the staff was primarily due to briefings by Irish security officials. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the Russian Ambassador was summoned to Iveagh House “to advise him that four senior officials have been asked to leave the State”.

“This is because their activities have not been in accordance with international standards of diplomatic behaviour. This action is being taken under Article 9 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” the department said. 

The Government continues to believe that diplomatic channels between Ireland and the Russian Federation should remain open. This is in the interests of our citizens as well as to ensure that we can continue to have a diplomatic channel of communication between Ireland and the Russian Federation in the future.

“This channel of communication has been important in the context of conveying our strong views on the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine, which we regard as a serious breach of international law.”

The decision to expel the diplomats means that the individuals will be declared “persona non grata” and their credentials withdrawn. They will be given a deadline in days to leave the country.

Protests

Daily protests have been taking place at the gates of the Russian Embassy since the country’s invasion of Ukraine and opposition parties have repeatedly called for the expulsion of the Russian Ambassador. 

The government has repeatedly said that decisions around the expulsion of diplomats would be taken at an EU level. Belgium and the Netherlands today announced that they have expelled a combined 38 Russian diplomats. 

The Irish government has also said that any expulsion of Russian diplomats could lead to retaliatory action on Irish Embassy staff in Moscow.  

The Journal has previously reported that Irish security sources have determined that Russia has used its embassy here as an intelligence and communications base for European operations. 

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, An Taoiseach said the decision to expel the officials was taken following “briefings we’ve received from security officials”. 

“My view is that it’s the correct decision, the right decision in terms of our own national security, but also in terms of sending a very clear message also in terms of the abhorness that we have in respect of the war on Ukraine.

But the decision has been primarily informed by the briefings we’ve received from security officials in respect of the behaviour of these individuals and that that’s why the Department of Foreign Affairs some of the ambassador today, we also wanted to do these initiatives and take initiatives of this kind in with our colleagues in the European Union.  

Martin added that no European country has so far expelled a Russian Ambassador. 

“In terms of the ambassador, we’re anxious to keep channels open, we believe that’s important in terms of the protection of citizens and also in terms of maintaining a channel to communicate our abhorrence of the war directly to the Russian Federation government, but also then to enable us in terms of humanitarian  assistance that may be required for Irish citizens in Russia, or indeed, in Ukraine.”

Martin was responding to questions from Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD and Labour leader Ivana Bacik TD who had both inquired as to the status of the Russian Ambassador here. 

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“We know that the war must end and the peace and diplomacy must prevail but we have said to for quite some time that as this illegal war continues, and as Russia breaches international law so viciously and with such a such such brazenness, that Ireland needs to exert all pressure,” McDonald said. 

Bacik said: “My party Labour as an internationalist party, a member of the Party of European Socialists has consistently stood with the people of Ukraine, with the people of Syria when they endured horrific bombardment and attack from Putin through Assad, through his puppet regime in Syria, and we’ve stood with the people of Yemen and with Palestine.”

A Government spokesperson said they hoped there would not be any retaliation from the Russian side to the expulsion of the officials from Ireland.

They added that it was “rare for Ireland to do something like this”. However, they added that following a security briefing yesterday the action “was necessary”. 

- With reporting by Niall O’Connor and Christina Finn

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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