Gilmore tells Russian ambassador of Ireland’s deep concern over Ukraine action
Tánaiste says EU wants to see peaceful solution to crisis and is ready to engage in talks with all parties
Russian ambassador to Ireland Maxim Peshkov before his meeting with Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore at Government Buildings yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson
Mr Gilmore met the ambassador in Government Buildings yesterday afternoon.
Afterwards, the Tánaiste told the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs that Russia’s actions in Ukraine were in breach of international law.
“I have just come from a meeting with the Russian ambassador to Ireland in which I expressed our condemnation of Russia’s actions in Crimea, and requested that ambassador Peshkov convey Ireland’s deep concern to his government,” Mr Gilmore told the committee.
He repeated the view he expressed in Brussels on Monday that what is happening in the Crimea is the worst crisis Europe has faced since the end of the Cold War.
“I have strongly condemned Russia’s actions over the weekend and call on it to immediately withdraw troops to their barracks. Russia’s actions are in clear breach of international law and of their obligations to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added.
He said the EU wanted to see a peaceful solution to the current crisis and stood ready to engage in talks with all parties to resolve it.
“We will work with the United Nations and the OSCE [Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe] to facilitate a peaceful resolution of this dangerous situation. However, at yesterday’s emergency Council, the EU sent a very strong message to Russia.
“If the Russian authorities do not de-escalate this crisis, the EU will take consequential action, including suspending talks on visa liberalisation and on a new economic agreement, both of which are priorities for the Russian government. Foreign ministers will continue to monitor this situation very closely and we stand ready to implement further targeted measures as necessary,” said Mr Gilmore.
He recalled it was the announcement on November 21st last year by Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovich of his decision to postpone preparations for the signature of the Association Agreement at November’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius that triggered major protests in Ukraine late last year.
“The initial protests were overwhelmingly peaceful yet were met just over a week later by heavy handed police action which only served to inflame the situation.”
Mr Gilmore said it was right for the EU Council to convene in extraordinary sessions given last month’s violent clashes between protestors and security forces, which resulted in so many deaths, coupled with the deeply disturbing developments in Crimea.
“The situation remains extremely dangerous though thankfully there are no reports of armed clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces thus far. As I made clear to ambassador Peshkov, there is an urgent need for Moscow to de-escalate the situation.”
The Tánaiste said EU foreign ministers had adopted resolutions strongly condemning the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty by the Russian armed forces as well as the authorisation given by the Federation Council of Russia on March 1st for the use of the armed forces on the territory of Ukraine.