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Government 'not happy' with Russian live drills off Irish coast

Digital Desk Staff

The Government is “not happy” and is “concerned” that Russia is planning to conduct live ammunition drills off the south coast of Ireland.

As the Irish Examiner report, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney is to speak directly to the Russian Ambassador about the plans to conduct the drills.

The Irish Aviation Authority has sent a notification to air traffic control to close a part of Irish airspace for a few days in February. However, it has said the drills will cause no disruption to Irish aviation.

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Junior OPW minister Patrick O’Donovan said Mr Coveney is to raise his concerns with Russia in the coming days.

He said that while the drills are due to take place 240kms off the Cork coast, they will not be in Irish waters.

“I spoke to the minister of foreign affairs about this and, the Department of Foreign Affairs has raised this with the Russian Embassy in Ireland," Mr O'Donovan said.

"He's going to speak directly to the Russian embassy and the Russian ambassador himself. He's not happy about this.”

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These are not southern Irish waters. They're called the exclusive economic zone.

Radar defences

"And it wouldn't be unusual for naval vessels from other countries to give notice to Civil Aviation Authority in this case, the Irish Aviation Authority,” he added.

He said there's a meeting of European and foreign ministers taking place on Monday.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said the reasons countries are looking to conduct these exercises so close to Ireland is because of the weakness in our primary radar defences.

“This was pointed out in fairness in a government white paper seven years ago and it said that this was a priority but still hasn't happened," Mr Doherty said.

"So therefore we have an overstretched Defence Forces already. They will be farther stretched.

"We need to make sure that the necessary investments are there so that we're not at the back of the class when it comes to being able to monitor what is happening,” he said.

Labour TD Ivana Bacik said the development is “very alarming”. She said Russia has used bullying tactics:

"Look at Ukraine, look at Belarus, look at Georgia, look at Russian intervention in Syria, appalling intervention, and I've been hugely critical of Russia over many years," she said.

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