In national interest to back sanctions against Russia, says Minister

Donohoe responding to comments from Russian ambassador to Ireland, Maxim Peshkov

Russian Ambassador to Ireland Maxim Peshkov: has warned sanctions will involve retaliation, which would have an impact on Irish exports to Russia.  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Russian Ambassador to Ireland Maxim Peshkov: has warned sanctions will involve retaliation, which would have an impact on Irish exports to Russia. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 01:00


It is strongly in Ireland’s national interest to back sanctions against Russia

over the annexation of Crimea, according to Minister for European Affairs Paschal Donohoe.

He was responding to comments from the Russian ambassador to Ireland, Maxim Peshkov, who warned that this country will suffer serious economic consequences if its supports further EU sanctions.

“It is our duty, as well as being in our national interest, to uphold international law and support the measures being proposed at EU level to deal with the Russian intervention in the Crimea,” said Mr Donohoe.

He said it was quite clear that international law had been broken and an appropriate response was essential.

“Ireland is a small country which depends for its survival on respect for the rule of international law so it is very much in our interest to support an effective EU response,” said Mr Donohoe.

“Our guiding principle is that we have to uphold the law and cannot allow the Russian annexation to go unchallenged. There are many processes in place to allow problems affecting communities and borders to be resolved in a peaceful way so there is no excuse for what the Russians have done,” he added. Mr Donohoe said the so-called referendum in the Crimea, which did not even give people the option of remaining in Ukraine, was clearly illegal.

The EU heads of government will meet in Brussels today and tomorrow and the top item on the agenda will be the issue of what further action should be taken over Crimea.

Mr Donohoe said that tomorrow Taoiseach Enda Kenny would be one of 28 EU leaders to sign the political provisions of the association agreement with Ukraine, along with the prime minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatseniuk.

This follows from an agreement by EU foreign ministers on Monday to strongly condemn the “illegal referendum in Crimea on joining the Russian Federation in clear breach of the Ukranian constitution”.

Travel restrictions and an asset freeze were imposed against 21 people deemed responsible for actions that threatened the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine and the EU leaders will have to make decisions on more effective sanctions against Russia.

The Russian ambassador has warned this will involve retaliation, which would have an impact on Irish exports to Russia €637 million last year.

Mr Peshkov said Ireland could make any decisions it wanted on sanctions but should take into consideration that they were a double-edged sword. “If you want to impose sanctions, that’s your business. Our business is to analyse and answer. What this answer will be will depend on the real situation.”

He said the impact on the Irish economy would depend on the type of sanctions imposed on his country.

Mr Peshkov said Russia has trade agreements with Europe worth more than €460 billion a year and warned that if these ties were broken it could be “very painful” for Ireland and the rest of the continent.