Ireland's dispute over the invasion of Ukraine is with the government of Vladimir Putin and not the people of Russia, the Department of Foreign Affairs has stated.
In an interview with the state-owned Russia 24 television station, the Russian ambassador to Ireland Filatov said the situation here is "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”.
Mr Filatov appeared to suggest that relations between the two countries had broken down and said it was "hardly possible to talk now about any relations between Russia and Ireland".
In response the DFA stated that Ireland was indeed at the “forefront of efforts” to hold Russia accountable for its invasion of most extensive ever adopted.
“ Russia’s invasion is a gross violation of international law and the UN Charter and the unanimous cross-party Dáil motion could not have made this clearer,” the Department added.
“We have supported EU sanctions in response to the situation which are the the most extensive ever adopted. This week, we excluded key Russian banks from SWIFT and SWIFT and banned Russian media from spreading disinformation in the EU. The EU has responded as it promised it would: with unity, firmness and determination. The effectiveness of these sanctions is evident and discussions on further measures continue.
"The adoption of a strong UN General Assembly resolution, supported by the overwhelming majority (141) of UN Member States, is also powerful global rejection of Russia's aggression against a sovereign state."
The Department confirmed that it does not intend to close the embassy or expel the ambassador as many had asked for.
“There is value in keeping diplomatic channels open with Russia, not least to protect our interests and our citizens,” it explained.
“We also wish to retain friendship with the people of Russia, many of whom profoundly disagree with the aggressive and illegal actions of President Putin in Ukraine.
“Like all of the other responses we have deployed, we are coordinating closely with EU partners to ensure decisions have a meaningful impact.”
In his interview Mr Filatov accused protesters outside the Russian embassy in Orwell Road, Rathgar of being "rough and really aggressive" while its staff had received phone calls and email threats.
People in the West are “going crazy” about the invasion and it is impacting on Russians living in Ireland: “They receive reprisal threats. Unfortunately, there are cases of bullying,” he said. So far, there is no independent evidence of this.
“This is very sad because in general, in my opinion, the Irish are kind and responsive.But sometimes when they absolutely don’t understand the situation, they take sides without any analysis and they act based on it.
“This is influencing our kids, unfortunately, who are studying here. We are limited in what we can do. We are staying in contact with them, supporting each other and giving advice,” the ambassador continued.