Solidarity | 

Ireland ruling nothing out in terms of Russia sanctions – but will only act alongside EU

Taoiseach also stresses Ireland will not rush into measures such as the expulsion of the Russian Ambassador
Protesters gathered outside the Russian embassy in Dublin to protest the invasion of Ukraine. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Protesters gathered outside the Russian embassy in Dublin to protest the invasion of Ukraine. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Ralph Riegel

Taoiseach Micheal Martin warned that Ireland is ruling nothing out in terms of economic, travel and diplomatic sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

But the Taoiseach – speaking in Cork – stressed that Ireland will only act in close consort with the European Union and United Nations to exert maximum pressure on Moscow to comply with international law and respect Ukrainian territory.

He stressed Ireland will not rush into measures such as the expulsion of the Russian Ambassador, which could have unintended humanitarian consequences through the loss of critical diplomatic channels.

Mr Martin said Ireland wanted to show solidarity with the Ukrainian government and people as they battled bravely to defend their independence.

"We were ruling nothing out and we will work in consort with our European partners," Mr Martin said.

"I think countries doing things individually is not as effective as the European Union working together with 27 states, along with the United States, and along with Canada, and other countries who are appalled at this attack.

"So nothing is ruled out. But I'm just making the point in terms of the practical purpose of having people on the ground in Moscow, for example, or having channels open that could facilitate helping Irish citizens in Ukraine or indeed, in Russia itself as things unfold, and that we've seen that in other parts of the world, where you know, legitimate issues arise in terms of helping Irish citizens.

"That's the practical dimension of that which we always have to keep in mind, but we will work and discuss these issues with our colleagues across the European Union."

Taoiseach Micheál Martin

Taoiseach Micheál Martin

Mr Martin said Ireland will not shirk from taking tough steps to underline its abhorrence at what has happened in Ukraine.

"Where we have taken a stand, I mean, Ireland has said and I said at the EU Council on Thursday that we wanted the most comprehensive set of sanctions that we could possibly deploy.

"And I believe that the financial sanctions and the various other sanctions that we have announced collectively do represent an unprecedented response to an unjustifiable war.

"Now in respect of the diplomatic situation in terms of embassies… I believe unity is strength, we should work on a co-ordinated basis with our fellow colleagues across Europe.

"There is a practical dimension to this that we do have a presence in Moscow. And it's important in situations like this and in crisis, that having people on the ground that can facilitate humanitarian responses to help Irish citizens who could potentially be in very difficult situations as it is very hard to predict how this crisis is going to unfold.

"Channels such as that do matter, in terms of helping citizens overseas who could be in difficulties.”

His comments came as major demonstrations were staged in Dublin, Cork and Galway in support of the embattled Ukrainian people.

National collections of clothing, foodstuffs and medical supplies to help the Ukrainian people are also underway.

Irish citizens have also been asked to place a light or candle in their window as a demonstration of solidarity with Ukrainian people.

Mr Martin said issues like flight bans for Russian aircraft were triggered by Moscow's actions in Ukraine, which have undermined the entire European order.

He said; “The world has changed by virtue of this unjustified war that Russia has decided to to wage against the people with Ukraine."

The Taoiseach urged everyone – but especially the Moscow authorities – to pursue a peaceful settlement to the dispute.

"We would call for a de-escalation. We would welcome any (peace) talks. We have always been consistent on the point of dialogue to resolve issues between states and any security issues in terms of the European area,” he said.

"European countries have said to Russia: 'Look, if you have security issues, there is a forum there to resolve those and to discuss those.’

"We would welcome such talks because in our view the war, the violence is unjustifiable.

"We know hospitals are being attacked, schools are being attacked, nurseries and civilians are being killed. It is unacceptable. It is immoral what is going on and it needs to be brought to an end.”

A boy plays on a swing in front of a damaged residential block hit by an early morning missile strike in Kyiv. Picture: Getty

A boy plays on a swing in front of a damaged residential block hit by an early morning missile strike in Kyiv. Picture: Getty

Mr Martin said Ireland will stand firm alongside its European and UN allies.

"I think it has to be acknowledged that the European Union, along with United States, Canada, and other like-minded democracies have acted with great solidarity,” he said.

"With great unity and with great determination, and have imposed sanctions in an unprecedented scale. I think that reflects a very unified and cohesive response to the unjustified and immoral war that Russia is waging on the people of Ukraine.

"And I think we shouldn't understate the significance of the European Union response to date in consort with fellow democracies who want to uphold the basic principles of self-determination, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"Last evening, we had further evidence of that with the decision to remove Russian banks from the SWIFT system. And also denying the Russian Central Bank access to international reserves.”

"Also for further measures in relation to individually individuals and entities whose actions are facilitating this Russian war on the Ukrainian people. And I think that's pretty important."

The Taoiseach said he believed the measures adopted by the EU, US and other countries will give the Russian authorities cause to think again.

"It does give us the capacity to undermine the industrial base of Russia and its capacity ultimately, to wage war, not in the immediate sense, but certainly will will give I think, Russia, and many people within Russian leadership and in the commercial world and so on, pause for thought in terms of their capacity economically, and financially to operate, with such unprecedented sanctions of this kind.

"No-one wants to do that… but we are in a very unprecedented situation, given the violation of basic principles of self-determination and sovereignty."

The Taoiseach also slated the shock Russian decision to place its nuclear forces on high alert.

"It is absolutely irresponsible and reckless, just as the original waging of war is reckless and irresponsible,” he said.

"It's an attempt to intimidate and to bully and we admire, you know, the courage of the Ukrainian people.

"It's quite extraordinary – standing up for their country and their people, but again, it's a huge cost in terms of the loss of life and the destruction of their cities and towns. So this is a further threat.

"But I think the the response has to be very firm from the western perspective, the sanctions that we've deployed with a view to ending this war. It is very, very important that this war should end and that people should be spared any further loss of life and damage.

"Fundamentally, this is about the upholding of universal principles of self-determination, democracy, freedom of speech and free media.

"That's what this is about. We've never been slow to take sides on fundamental universal principles that are enshrined in the United Nations Charter. We're on the Security Council of the United Nations. That is our very strong view. And we will always defend those rights and we have to be affirmative enough respected."

An armored personnel carrier burns and damaged light utility vehicles stand abandoned after fighting in Kharkiv. Credit: Marienko Andrew/AP

An armored personnel carrier burns and damaged light utility vehicles stand abandoned after fighting in Kharkiv. Credit: Marienko Andrew/AP

He also vowed that Ireland will not allow itself to be used as a safe haven for Russian money.

“We have no truck with any attempts by anybody to funnel money through anyone who is on that sanctions list. We will uphold and adhere to sanctions as announced," he said.

"Ireland will not be found wanting to the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding. We will see what we can do logistically in terms of supplying medical supplies, in terms of providing additional supports with other countries within the European Union, in terms of dealing with victims with injuries and so on.

"We will do everything we possibly can to help Ukrainian citizens who have been injured. I think it is shocking what we are witnessing on our television screens. People are finding it very difficult to comprehend that in this day and age such atrocities can occur.

"Practices which belong to the early 20th century are not manifesting themselves in the early 21st century. Most people would have thought we were rid of that.

"The extraordinary courage of the Ukrainian people and the President of the Ukraine has rallied the world."


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