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Irish Defence Forces
ireland's eez

Russian ships under observation by Defence Forces have left Irish economic zone

Pictures of the ships taken while they were in Ireland’s EEZ off the west coast have been released by the Defence Forces.

THE DEFENCE FORCES have stated that commercial ships from Russia which were being monitored after entering Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) have now left.

It’s understood that the ships act as supply and support vessels for oil rigs.

In a statement this afternoon, a Defence Forces spokesperson said:

“This week Óglaigh na hÉireann have monitored Russian commercial ships both outside and inside Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). As part of their Maritime, Defence and Security Operations (MDSO), the Irish Air Corps Maritime Patrol Aircraft have observed Russian commercial vessels in international waters off the island of Ireland.”

“These vessels have now left Ireland’s EEZ.”

“The Irish Air Corps and the Irish Naval Service continue to monitor activity in Irish waters and to undertake Maritime Defence and Security Operations (MDSO) throughout Ireland’s maritime domain.”

Ireland’s EEZ extends 320 km off the coast, except for areas in the Irish Sea where the EEZ is smaller because it borders the UK’s.

MP02123_10 Irish Defence Forces Irish Defence Forces

The Irish Naval Service were, during the week, unable to respond and the ships were monitored by Irish Air Corps maritime patrol aircraft based at Baldonnel.

It’s understood that the Russian ships, which have cable laying capability, have spent the last number of days in Irish waters.

They were off the west coast seeking shelter from bad weather and it is understood they were making their way south to Africa where the ship’s owners are engaged with an oil production facility, a source told The Journal.

Concern was raised by security sources that the ships, due to their capabilities of working on subsea cables, may be a threat to internet cables and pipelines off the coast of Ireland.

It was feared that the vessels may have been engaged in other clandestine operations for the Russian State but enquiries by the Defence Forces and other national security agencies have established that most likely they were not.

An exercise involving missile tests was due to take place in February of last year, shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with then-Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney saying he “made it clear to the Russian ambassador in Ireland, that it’s not welcome”.

Russia then agreed to relocate the excercise.

In August 2022 a ship was sent by the UK’s Royal Navy to observe two Russian warships conducting military operations approximately 100 nautical miles south of Cork Harbour. 

Russian ships have been banned from docking at EU ports since last April as part of sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine.

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Niall O'Connor and Jamie McCarron
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