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Coveney set to speak with Russian ambassador over missile testing in Irish-patrolled waters

Minister for State Patrick O’Donovan said that the Foreign Affairs Minister was “not happy”

Image: Sam Boal

THE MINISTER FOR Foreign Affairs and Defence, Simon Coveney, is set to meet with the Russian ambassador to Ireland over concerns around the testing of missiles off the south-west coast of Ireland.

Yesterday, The Journal reported that the Irish Government received a warning of a major exercise by the Russian navy and air force in the Atlantic, 240 kilometres off the south-west coast of Ireland.

The missile test will take place in international waters off the coast of County Cork in the first week of February.

Speaking to RTÉ’s This Week in Politics, Minister for State Patrick O’Donovan said that Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney will meet with the Russian ambassador to Ireland, Yury Filatov.

According to O’Donovan, Coveney is “not happy” about the missile tests and that the Department of Foreign Affairs has already raised concerns about the tests.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs have raised this with the Russian Embassy in Ireland, he’s [Coveney] going to speak directly to the Russian Embassy and the Russian Ambassador about this. He’s not happy about this,” said O’Donovan.

“The Minister for Foreign Affairs is concerned, he’s not happy about this.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed to The Journal that it was aware of the Russian naval exercises and has raised “concerns” with Moscow.

“The location where the exercises are taking place is approximately 240 kilometres off the south west coast and within Ireland’s 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) but not in Ireland’s territorial waters.

“Under international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), states are entitled to carry out naval exercises in another state’s EEZ. The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) were informed of the exercise via standard procedures.

“In light of the current political and security environment in Europe, the Department of Foreign Affairs has raised a number of concerns with the Russian authorities and discussions will continue,” she said. 

O’Donovan said that Coveney would be raising these concerns at a meeting of European Foreign Ministers.

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Exclusive Economic Zone

The missile tests themselves are set to be conducted in a small area of water that is within Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone – which is patrolled by Irish naval ships and Air Corps Casa aircraft.

An Exclusive Economic Zone is an area which Ireland has responsibility for and has rights to explore and operate in as a sovereign country. 

The Irish Aviation Authority has said that it will be re-routing commercial flights and will be issuing a warning.

- Additional reporting by Niall O’Connor

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