Sun, 22 May 2022

DUBLIN, Ireland: Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said he will discuss with his EU counterparts Russia's intentions to conduct naval exercises 240km off the southwest coast of Ireland.

He made his comments prior to a meeting of EU foreign ministers, which will be focused on increased tensions over Ukraine.

While Coveney acknowledged that Russian naval exercises are being held in international waters, he noted that it is "also part of the exclusive economic zone of Ireland."

"We don't have the power to prevent this happening. But certainly, I've made it clear to the Russian ambassador in Ireland that it's not welcome.

"This isn't the time to increase military activity and tension, in the context of what's happening with Ukraine at the moment, and so I think it's important that I brief my colleagues on those intentions.

Coveney noted that the EU was ready to impose the "most comprehensive" and "severe" range of sanctions and restrictions on Russia "in many, many decades" should Moscow invade Ukraine.

The meeting of EU foreign ministers, which will include U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken via video conference, will see a call on Russia to defuse tensions, and to demonstrate EU unity should Russia invade Ukraine.

There will be "a strong message of unity from the EU should Russia decide to invade Ukraine militarily, that there would be very severe consequences of that action from an EU perspective, in terms of sanctions and restrictions that will follow very quickly, that I think would be the most comprehensive that the EU has put together in many, many decades," said Coveney.

Separately, Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs has said it has "no plans" to withdraw any staff or their dependents from the Irish Embassy in Kiev.

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