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naval exercises Department of Foreign Affairs concerned over planned Russian missile tests off Irish coast

Russia is set to carry out a series of artillery and rocket drills worldwide in the coming weeks which include exercises around 240km off the coast of Cork

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A new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile is launched. Photo: Russian defence ministry/AP

A new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile is launched. Photo: Russian defence ministry/AP

A new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile is launched. Photo: Russian defence ministry/AP

The Department of Foreign Affairs has raised concerns with Russian authorities over planned missile tests off the Irish coast next month.

Russia is set to carry out a series of artillery and rocket drills worldwide in the coming weeks which include exercises around 240km off the coast of Cork.

A notice of the planned military exercise has also requested a temporary closure for flights over the test area in early February.

Irish officials were informed of the missile tests through standard procedures but have raised concerns in light of the current political situation in Europe.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs is aware of planned Russian naval exercises off the south west coast of Ireland in early February.

"The location where the exercises are taking place is approximately 240 kilometres off the south west coast and within Ireland’s 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) but not in Ireland’s territorial waters,” a spokesman for the Department said.

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Deputy Sorca Clarke

Deputy Sorca Clarke

Deputy Sorca Clarke

“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) were informed of the exercise via standard procedures.

“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 and discussions will continue,” the spokesman added.

Sinn Féin TD Sorca Clarke has said she is “deeply concerned” about the planned missile tests and that it is placing increased pressure on Ireland’s “over-stretched” military.

“I am deeply concerned that Russia is to conduct a missile test off the coast of County Cork in the first week of February.

“The lack of primary radar is the reason other state entities have been probing our airspace for years with high-altitude bombers and escorts. These foreign aircraft can see us but we cannot see them.

“While the 2015 White Paper recognises that radar surveillance is a priority, there has been no meaningful action by government since then to deliver on it. Our Naval Service is now understaffed and under-equipped with no capability to see below sea level and normal operation of units is an ongoing issue,” Ms Clarke said.

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A long-range Russian bomber. Photo: Russian Defence Ministry Press Service/AP

A long-range Russian bomber. Photo: Russian Defence Ministry Press Service/AP

A long-range Russian bomber. Photo: Russian Defence Ministry Press Service/AP

 

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“Our own Defence Forces staffing levels have been impacted by reducing numbers over the last number of years and it is an area of concern repeatedly highlighted by representative bodies.

“Reports of Naval Service ships being anchored or running on skeleton crews due to severe understaffing are hugely worrying.

“International testing exercises, such as these latest reports from Russia, are placing increased pressure on our already over-stretched Defence Forces that successive governments have failed to invest in and support properly,” the Sinn Féin TD added.

The exercise off the Cork coast is part of a series of tests due to be carried out by the Russian military worldwide.

Drills will begin at the end of January and take place in areas including the Mediterranean, the north Sea and the Indian Ocean.

It comes at a time of growing tensions between Moscow and Western powers after Russia deployed more than 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine.

The Kremlin denies it is planning to attack and argues that NATO support for Ukraine, including increased weapons supplies and military training, constitutes a growing threat on Russia's western flank.

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