The Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov has described Irish people as being subjected to "propaganda warfare" in relation to the war in Ukraine.
Speaking on RTÉ radio, Mr Filatov accused the Ukrainian military of staging many of the atrocities in the war including the killing of civilians in Busha, the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol and a rocket attack on a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk which killed more than 50 people.
He described these attacks as “calculated staged provocations - we have every reason to believe that the Ukrainian special services and nationalist battalions have been behind these.”
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy's claims that Russia has carried out war crimes against civilians should be taken with a "big, big grain of salt", he stated.
RTÉ Drivetime presenter Sarah McInerney suggested to Mr Filatov that he was “taking us all for fools” and that there was ample evidence and multiple independent accounts of Russian atrocities against Ukrainian civilians.
Mr Filatov responded by stating that he was giving another point of view as to what is happening in Ukraine. “You would want to open your eyes to another source of information”.
Mr Filatov said he may not have been privy to all the deliberations of the Russian government when he told Ms McInerney two months ago that anybody who thought Russia would invade Ukraine was “insane”.
“There might have been a chance that I didn’t know every circumstance. As you can imagine, it is not the case that all of the ambassadors are consulted in very difficult and changing situations,” he said.
“Under the cirumstances the only way to defend Donbass and our own strategic interest and end the suffering for the last eight years was through a special military operation. That was through necessity not our own preference.”
Mr Filatov insisted that what was happening in Ukraine over the last two months remains a “special military operation” not a war.
When asked how he would define what a war was, he said a war was “all out, no holds barred” while what was happening in Ukraine was a “very surgical operation aimed to safeguard the Donetsk and Lugansk republics, to deny the Kyiv regime the ability to continue its against genocide against these republics which they have been carrying on for eight years.”