Irish fishermen stated their intentions to peacefully disrupt Russian military live fire exercises planned for southern Irish waters in the first week of February. The fishermen told news outlets that they would protest against Russian missile tests by sending a flotilla of trawlers to fish in the area where military activities are planned to take place.

“We are going to continue to fish out there,” said Patrick Murphy, CEO of Irish South and West Fish Producers. “The sea is our working environment where we should feel safe without interference to our livelihoods” he said in an interview with RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster. The fisherman also expressed his fears of damage to marine life and abundant fish stocks in the area.

“This isn’t a time to increase military activity and tension in the context of what’s happening in Ukraine at the moment,” – Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney.

News reports highlighted that Coveney made it clear to the Russian ambassador, Yuriy Filatov, that military activity is not welcome in the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ). However, the minister admitted that Ireland does not have the power to prevent such exercises as they are legal under international agreements.

The Russian Embassy in Ireland issued a statement warning that they had explained to the fishermen that “any attempts to interfere with military exercises would be a reckless and irresponsible act which could put sailors and fishermen in harms way”.

The Irish Aviation Authority has been notified of the exercises in order to divert air traffic while they are ongoing, according to reports. Some security officials have expressed fears for the security of transatlantic data cables on the seabed in the general area.

Though Ireland is officially a neutral country in relation to current tensions between Ukraine and Russia, it is a member of the European Union. Ireland fully supports the unified approach of the EU to urge Russia to pursue the peaceful path of diplomacy and dialogue, or to face high costs for invading Ukraine again.



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