Ireland accused of playing ‘direct’ role in war over plan to help EU train Ukrainian army in mine clearance – The Irish Times

Ireland’s participation in an EU training mission for the Ukrainian army next month will mean it is ‘clearly directly involved in the ongoing conflict’, says Russian ambassador to Ireland , Yuriy Filatov.

Ireland is to provide training to help Ukraine clear its country under a joint European Union military training mission agreed last week.

Following a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, Foreign and Defense Minister Simon Coveney said the Defense Forces could offer “useful niche skills for Ukraine” linked to “explosives management” and “counter-IED”.

“There are unfortunately thousands, thousands of landmines placed across Ukraine,” he said.

“I hope that Ireland can participate in the training of the Ukrainian army to deal with [these] safely, to try to prevent the kind of horrific injuries that many civilians and even military personnel could sustain.

Irish know-how

“Ireland has expertise in this area – we were involved in an EU training mission to Mali, for example, specifically around demining.”

The decision led to heated exchanges at the Dáil on Tuesday, in which People before Profit TD Paul Murphy said the government “very cynically used Putin’s brutal imperialist invasion of Ukraine to drive a coach and horses through what remains of the idea of ​​neutrality”. .

In response, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal had asked for help with mine clearance because there were landmines “all over Ukraine” and because Ireland had expertise. particular in this area.

“We know that armies like the Russian army leave things behind which will lead to children having their legs amputated when stepping on mines etc.,” he said.

“Our military neutrality has been made clear to all parties. It is accepted.”

“No ambiguity”

In a statement on Thursday, Russia’s ambassador to Ireland, Yuriy Filatov, said there was “no way around the fact” that by engaging with the Ukrainian military, Ireland would would involve in the war “in a direct way”.

“Demining training is not [an] entirely defensive and peaceful activity – as any military expert would confirm, this process also involves learning the process of laying mines,” he said.

“At the same time, in our view, there is no ambiguity that Ireland is not neutral in the Ukrainian conflict – the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and other Irish officials are aware of this – that which seems to be the main thing.

He dismissed comments from the Taoiseach that the Russian military was leaving behind armaments that would endanger children.

He added: “There is no getting around the fact that by engaging with the Ukrainian military, whether over mines or otherwise, Ireland would clearly be directly involved in the conflict in Classes.”

In response, a Foreign Office spokesperson said: “Ireland’s position regarding Russia’s unlawful aggression against Ukraine and our support for Ukraine’s right to defend this attack on its sovereignty and its territorial integrity, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, has been detailed by the government since February.

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