Ireland raises concern about Russian naval exercises within its airspace
The Irish Government has expressed concern about planned Russian Navy military exercises 240km off Ireland’s south-west coast.
The artillery drills at the start of February will take place in international waters, but within Irish controlled airspace and the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
All civilian aircraft will be routed away from the area during the exercises.
In compliance with legal requirements, Russia has informed Ireland’s aviation authorities of the planned activities in advance.
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) insisted there would be no impact to the safety of civil aircraft operations.
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has raised the issue with Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov.
Mr Coveney is due in Brussels on Monday for a scheduled meeting with other EU foreign ministers at which the ongoing tensions on the Russia/Ukraine border will be discussed.
The minister is due to raise his concerns about the Russian naval exercises at the meeting.
“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,” said Mr Coveney.
“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.
“Separately, 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.”
Mr Coveney said Ireland, along with several EU states, had updated its travel advice for Ukraine.
“We are recommending that Irish citizens avoid non-essential travel to the country at this time,” he said.
“We continue to recommend that Irish citizens living in or travelling to Ukraine register with the Embassy of Ireland in Kyiv.”
In a statement, the IAA said: “The IAA has been made aware via the normal international processes for such events in International Waters regarding a Russian navy artillery test 240 kilometres off the south-west coast of Ireland in early February.”
The authority added: “Although the efficiency of aircraft routing may be affected, the safety of operations within Irish Air Traffic Control Airspace will not be impacted, as all civilian aircraft will be routed away from this area during the activity.
“While not common, notifications for similar activity in International Waters within Irish controlled airspace are received from time to time from other jurisdictions and the same procedures are applied to ensure the safety of civilian aircraft at all times.”