Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney T.D.
As has been widely reported in the media, Russian naval exercises are due to take place in early February, approximately 240 kilometres off the south west coast and within Ireland’s 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) was informed of the exercise via standard procedures and has issued a statement to that effect. 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 in respect of these exercises. We will continue these discussions in the coming days.
Seperately, EU Foreign Ministers will meet tomorrow in Brussels. I expect our discussions to be dominated by the security situation in Europe, with a particular focus on Russia and Ukraine. During these discussions, I will briefly inform my EU colleagues about the planned Russian naval exercises. More broadly, I will also reiterate our full support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and will call again on Russia to de-escalate tensions and engage constructively in dialogue.
As a precautionary measure, and in line with many other EU Member States, we updated our travel advice for Ukraine over the weekend. We are recommending that Irish citizens avoid non-essential travel to the country at this time. We continue to recommend that Irish citizens living in or travelling to Ukraine register with the Embassy of Ireland in Kyiv.