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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Putin backs down! Russia agrees 'buffer zone' with Ireland after fishermen row

WorldPutin backs down! Russia agrees 'buffer zone' with Ireland after fishermen row


In January, it emerged a taskgroup of Russian warships and support vessels were travelling towards Ireland for a live-fire exercise off the country’s south coast. In retaliation, Irish fishermen planned to peacefully disrupt the Russian drills.

Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov gave Irish fishermen “an absolute guarantee” their fishing grounds will not be affected by Russian naval exercises.

He met with Brendan Byrne, chief executive of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association, in Dublin on Thursday.

Mr Byrne said the pair had reached “an accommodation where there is a pathway for coexistence for the naval exercises and for our fishing fleet”, and added there would be a “buffer zone” between the Russian naval vessels and Irish fishing trawlers.

He then added“operational detail” of how that would work when the naval exercises take place next week would have “to go back to Moscow”.

Patrick Murphy, chief executive of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, said on Tuesday Irish fishermen would peacefully disrupt military exercises by the Russian navy.

Plans for Moscow’s military exercise see them carry out live-fire drills 240 kilometres off Ireland’s southwest coast in February

He said ahead of the meeting on Thursday: “No-one in the Government contacted us or informed us about the exercises.

“We found information from a Russia website that explained all of what was happening well before it came out publicly.

“No-one picked up the phone to us. Most fishermen are 21 days at sea, they have a right to do their business without the worry of missiles or rockets launching.”

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Mr Filatov stressed on Monday the drill would be “a small exercise — maybe three or four ships, not more”.

He said: “This is not in any way a threat to Ireland or anybody else. No harm is intended, no problem is expected.

“There is nothing really to be disturbed, concerned or anguished about. I have extensively explained that to the Irish colleagues.”

Mr Filatov described “the whole hoopla” around the exercises as a “non-story” which has been “hugely overblown,” saying that headlines had presented it in “almost apocalyptic overtones.”

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Simon Coveney, Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, said on Monday plans by Russia to hold navy military exercises off the coast of Ireland are “not welcome”.

Speaking to EU foreign ministers in Brussels, he said: “I have made it clear to the Russian ambassador in Ireland that it’s not welcome.

“This is not a time to increase military activity and tension in the context of what is happening with and in Ukraine at the moment.

“It’s important that I brief my colleagues on those intentions. Russia, under international law, can take military exercises in international waters, but the fact they are choosing to do it on the western borders of the EU, off the Irish coast, is something that is in our view not welcome and not wanted right now, particularly in the coming weeks.”



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