The Government is to close Irish airspace to all Russian aircraft in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said.
The move comes after the UK Department of Transport barred Russian commercial and civilian aircraft from British airspace on Friday in an escalation of measures against the Kremlin.
In a Sunday morning tweet, Mr Coveney announced the Government’s plan after referring to “shocking” overnight Russian attacks in Ukraine.
“Ireland will move to shut off Irish airspace to all Russian aircraft. We encourage other EU partners to do the same,” he said.
Russian troops entered Ukraine’s second largest city Kharkiv in the east of the country near the Russian border where there was fighting in the streets with Ukrainian military forces.
An oil depot about 30 km south west of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv was also targeted overnight.
A ban on Russian aircraft in Irish airspace will affect Russian aircraft flying over Ireland and any direct flights into the country. The Irish Aviation Authority will enforce the measure.
Mr Coveney also said in his Sunday morning tweet that the Government supported the “new wide-ranging sanctions” to be agreed today when the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council meets to take consider further measures against Russia.
Last Thursday, the UK government banned Russia’s national airline Aeroflot from landing in Britain following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The airline suspended flights to London and Dublin until May 23rd in response to the restrictions imposed by the UK authorities.
In retaliation to the UK ban, Russia’s civil aviation regulator banned British airlines from landing at Russia’s airports and from crossing its airspace. The move was a response to “the unfriendly decisions by the UK aviation authorities,” Russia said.
Other countries have joined the ban on Russian aircraft from their skies, cutting the country off from almost all of Europe’s airspace.
Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, the Balkan States, Romania, Bulgaria and Iceland have all closed their airspace to Russian planes, while France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Denmark have said they plan to introduce similar bans.
On Saturday the United States and the European Union also moved to block certain Russian banks from accessing the Swift international payment system in punishment for the attack on Ukraine.
Last night Mr Coveney has advised Irish citizens to avoid all essential travel to Russia.
Warning on sanctions
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment also warned private companies on Saturday evening that they have an obligation to ensure they are in full compliance with new trade sanctions imposed on Russia.
In a statement, the department said this second package builds on, and significantly expands, the first package of sanctions adopted on February 23rd.
“All EU sanctions regulations have direct effect in all member states of the EU, and, as such, are legally binding on all natural and legal persons in Ireland. Private companies, therefore, have an obligation to ensure that they are in full compliance with these new measures. A natural or legal person who contravenes a provision of an EU sanctions regulation shall be guilty of an offence and liable to prosecution.
“The sanctions involve a prohibition on the sale, supply transfer or export of dual use goods and technology, to Russia or for use in Russia. There is also a prohibition on the sale, supply, transfer or export, of specific goods and technology, listed which might contribute to Russia’s military and technological enhancement, to Russia or for use in Russia.”
The department said the sanctions also involve a prohibition in relation to sale, supply transfer and export of goods and technology suited for use in the oil refining aviation or space industry to Russia.
“For each of the aforementioned prohibitions on exports of goods and technology, there is a corresponding prohibition on the provision of technical assistance, brokering services or other services, including financial services, related to the goods and technology.
“These prohibitions apply irrespective of whether the goods or technology originate in the EU or not.”
The regulation sets out specific grounds on which the exporters can apply to the Competent Authority (Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment) for a partial or temporary exemption from the prohibitions.
“These grounds include humanitarian, medical applications, maritime safety, software updates, and for the execution of contracts entered into prior to 26 February 2022. Applications must be submitted in accordance with the procedure set out in the Regulation.
“However, the grounds for derogation are much narrower in respect of specific end-users, listed in the Regulation, affiliated with the Russian military.”