The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the horrific crimes being inflicted on innocent civilians there have rightly outraged Irish public opinion and prompted the Government to take a strong position against Moscow and in support of Ukraine. Through the State's solid advocacy for stringent sanctions against Vladimir Putin's regime , its generous humanitarian aid and an open door for Ukrainians seeking sanctuary, Ireland has made it quite clear that, in a confrontation such as this one, there can be no such thing as a neutral position.
Yet now is no time for self-congratulation. In addition to welcoming refugees, sending aid and making the case for resolute EU action, Ireland can help through implementation of the sanctions on the Russian economy and on those who work with, support and profit from the Putin regime. Many Irish companies have rightly withdrawn from doing business with Russia, and providers of professional services are stepping back from doing business with Russian clients.
Today The Irish Times, with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, published reports based on leaked documents that show, once again, how secrecy is used by Putin’s associates to hide their ill-gotten wealth. These global investigations have an unhappy habit of throwing up strong links to Ireland.
More needs to be done to bring this to an end. In the immediate term the State must ensure that no legal entities here are being misused by sanctioned Russian people or entities, and that all assets linked to sanctioned individuals are seized.
Putin and his associates can weather diplomatic isolation. They are impervious to shame. And they hold such a tight, brutally enforced control over Russian society that internal dissent is deemed a manageable problem. But their vulnerability is their money – vast amounts of it, hidden around the world and within reach of western authorities. For the West to adopt extraordinary sanctions and then to fail to apply them would vindicate everything Putin believes about the West’s inability to act as one against him.