Russian ambassador to Ireland: ‘I am for Ukrainians as well’

Yury Filatov confirms embassy in Dublin has now found supplier of heating oil

Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov pictured with traditional Easter foods at the Russian Orthodox Church in Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan

The Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov claims to have received many messages of support for his country's invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Filatov said on Saturday that he has been sent “many letters” from Irish people who disagree with the Irish Government’s opposition to the war in Ukraine.

However, he also acknowledged the Irish public in general overwhelmingly oppose Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

“I understand many Irish people who support Ukrainians. It is a really important, it is a complex situation,” he told The Irish Times.

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"I know, I am for Ukrainians as well. This is the tragedy of the situation. We don't have a quarrel with Ukrainians, it is the (Ukrainian) government and the neo-Nazi movement that are a danger to us and a danger to Europe as well."

Mr Filatov was attending the consecration of festive Easter food at Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Dublin’s only Russian Orthodox church, which is located in Harold’s Cross. The Orthodox church uses a different calendar than Catholic and Protestant churches to calculate Easter.

In an interview with the state-owned Russia 24 television station last month, Mr Filatov said the situation in Ireland was "frankly difficult", and he accused the country of being to the forefront of "anti-Russian events" in the European Union.

Blaming the Irish media for portraying an “absolutely tendentious picture” of the Ukraine invasion, the ambassador told Russian viewers that the Irish public is hostile to “Russia and everything Russian”.

When asked on Saturday if he still felt that way, Mr Filatov responded: “I don’t want to get into this quarrel. One thing is what you publish in your newspaper, the other thing is the truth. The truth is different.”

Images of Ukrainian civilians being killed by the Russian military, the massacre in Bucha and the total destruction of Mariupol have shocked the world.

The Government here has pledged to commit €3 million to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to support future investigative work.

In response, Mr Filatov said: “We disagree with the (Irish) Government in our assessments. Our military never targets civilians. They are nothing they are being labelled with.

“It is an information war. It is a general thing that the first casualty of the war is truth. It is difficult when you have just one source of information.”

The ambassador said his faith was important to him. Earlier this month, he complained to the Department of Foreign Affairs that the Russian embassy in Dublin could not find anybody to supply it with heating oil.

But Mr Filatov said they have since found a supplier. “We will manage with God’s help,” he said.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times