Diplomatic channels with Russia to ‘remain open’ despite ‘chilling’ embassy statement

Tánaiste’s tribute to slain Irishman Cafferkey led Russia to claim Ireland could be ‘participant’ in war

Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov speaks to media in 2021. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The Government has maintained diplomatic channels between Ireland and Russia will “remain open”, despite a recent statement from the country’s Irish embassy criticised as threatening and “chilling”.

The latest dispute follows a tribute Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin paid to Finbar Cafferkey, who was recently killed while fighting with the Ukrainian military against Russia, who invaded Ukraine last February.

The Fianna Fáil leader described Mr Cafferkey, who was from Achill Island, Co Mayo, as a “man of clear principles”.

In a statement on Friday evening, the Russian embassy said Ireland would be viewed as a “direct participant” to the conflict in Ukraine, if the remarks signified support for Irish people to travel to fight with Ukrainian forces.

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“It has been the Government and media who have been promoting anti-Russian propaganda, distorting the truth about the conflict in Ukraine, misleading people like Finbar Cafferkey. Now they face the results of their own efforts,” it said.

“If Mr Martin’s remarks signify support for the Irish to take part in combat in Ukraine, but we do know that if that is the case, then Ireland would be the direct participant of the conflict with all the ensuing consequences,” the embassy said.

The statement was criticised as “threatening, intimidating and chilling” by Fine Gael TD and former minister for foreign affairs Charlie Flanagan.

He said the “hostile remarks are unacceptable” and added that it was “beyond time Ambassador Filatov and his crew were asked to leave our country”.

Large blaze at Russian navy depot in Crimea after suspected drone strikeOpens in new window ]

Responding to the Russian embassy, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the Government’s position “in respect of Russia’s brutal and illegal aggression against Ukraine is crystal clear”.

“Ireland’s support for Ukraine is unwavering. Russian Disinformation will have no impact on this,” a spokesman said.

“The Government’s view is that diplomatic channels between Ireland and the Russian Federation should remain open,” he said.

Keeping the Irish embassy in Moscow open was in the best interest of Irish citizens living in the country, as well as five Asian countries who also rely on the embassy for consular support, the statement said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times