War in Europe – Russia’s assault on Ukraine

Sir, – At times of international crisis, there are understandable political and emotive calls for diplomats to be expelled, as much for domestic consumption as for the articulation of our disgust at reprehensible actions, such as Russian aggression in Ukraine.

However, these calls, by TDs, MEPs and others, need to be assessed in terms of strategic and diplomatic outcomes and therefore should be made with extreme caution and only as a last resort.

The Vienna Convention of 1961 codified what had been practice in diplomatic relations for the previous number of centuries, and states that “the receiving state may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending state that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable”.

The expulsion of ambassador Yury Filatov, and any other named diplomats, would in some way allow us to vent our repulsion of his country’s actions, but would also be at the expense of the benefits of retaining diplomatic channels with Russia at this time. The very likely reciprocal expulsion of Irish diplomats currently in Moscow if we did expel the ambassador would close direct channels of communication not only to the Russian administration, but also inhibit diplomatic assistance and advice to Irish citizens in Russia at a crucial time.


Citizens in Ireland should reflect on the anxiety of our fellow citizens abroad in times of extremis, and note that while diplomatic assistance continues to be available to Irish citizens in Ukraine, it is now at a remote distance as the Irish delegation has returned to base since the outbreak of violence.

Embassies are distinct political spaces that serve a variety of purposes, but a core element is for the host country to be able to articulate its political messaging to the sending state. We in Ireland should be all too aware of the benefits to be had of having back-channel discussions and negotiations in pursuit of peace.

Our diplomatic mission at the United Nations, so timely as a member of the Security Council, is doing a sterling job in articulating our position on the world stage and delivering the public side of our diplomacy, particularly to its Russian counterpart who currently holds the rotating chair of the Security Council.

The Russian embassy in Dublin is undoubtedly feeling the wrath of the Irish public in the daily demonstrations outside its gates, but crucially is still there to receive our Government’s opprobrium through more discreet diplomatic channels. We should continue to retain both the public and private channels to deliver our diplomatic message.

Indeed, as the ambassador’s ill-advised performance as he was interviewed so judiciously by RTÉ’s David McCullough has now reached 6.3 million views on social media, including in the Ukraine and Russia, there is domestic and international value to be had from having the ambassador available to hold to public scrutiny and, indeed, no little public scorn. – Yours, etc,


Lecturer in International

Relations and Politics,

Waterford Institute

of Technology.

Sir, – Ambassador Fullovit. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – As ever in any conflict zone, innocent civilians are caught up in the destruction and savagery of war.

The streams of Ukrainian refugees fleeing looking for safe sanctuary is very sad to see, particularly when seen in the context of a conflict taking place in Europe in the 21st century.

The fact any citizen has to flee their own country because of war is a terrible tragedy. That Ukrainians fleeing their country have been welcomed with open arms by neighbouring countries on its western border is very reassuring to see.

However, when war is perpetrated on countries like Iraq and Afghanistan by the US, Britain and its Nato allies and other countries like Syria where the citizens are fighting to overthrow a dictator, there are very few if any western countries helping or supporting in a humanitarian way the plight of many hundreds of thousands of civilians whose lives have been terrorised and destroyed by the actions of the so-called western democracies.

It seems that those who live outside of Europe the US and their allied states have a different approach to the refugees fleeing those countries affected by so-called “war on terror” or “regime change.”

Shouldn’t it be that all human beings caught up in wars should have the same level of protection as any other refugees fleeing wars or dictatorships? The plight of thousands of Afghans trying to flee Kabul only six months ago is a case in point.

The difference is that if and when the conflict ends peacefully, many of the refugees fleeing Ukraine will go back home. The same cannot be said for the many millions of people of those countries whose countries were destroyed or wrecked by western governments. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Cancelling performances by Russian ballet companies, etc, is not virtue signalling (Letters, February 28th). Since the dark days of the USSR, Russia has gained prestige abroad from her dancers, singers and musicians. They were used as propaganda, to put a positive face on what was, and clearly is again, a brutal and oppressive regime.

This war is, without doubt, the vanity project of a single individual. All sensible Russians oppose it, and one must regret any collateral damage they incur from it.

That said, we in the West must use any means at our disposal, in the areas of finance, the arts, sport, etc, to make our feelings clear. – Yours, etc,


St Helens,

Merseyside, UK.

Sir, – The European Union repeatedly claims to be a peace project and did succeed in promoting peace between the European belligerents involved with the two world wars. The European Union’s decision to finance the purchase and delivery of $500 million worth of weapons to Ukraine represents an unjustified reversal of this European peace project.

Unfortunately, the European Union and Nato especially have not been genuine defenders of peace in this conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and Nato’s expansion up to Russia’s borders has been one of the underlying causes of this conflict.

A very important part of the humanitarian ethos and practice of European Union is its prohibition of capital punishment by member states.

Supplying such a large quantity of lethal weapons into a war zone is likely to increase the numbers of people being killed and is the opposite of promoting peace. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – We are to “constructively abstain” from helping Ukrainians defend their homeland by not contributing to the purchase of weapons. Ducking out is what that means.

Where is our moral courage? – Yours, etc,


West Kirby,


A chara, – We are indebted to our MEPs Mick Wallace, Clare Daly, Luke “Ming” Flanagan, and Sinn Féin’s Chris MacManus for voting against a European Parliament motion condemning the Russian build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border, a vote which was passed by 548 to 69. Mick Wallace and Clare Daly justified their vote on the basis that the Russian troop deployment was “clearly defensive”. Perhaps Mick Wallace and Clare Daly could treat us to another one of their famous taxpayer-funded “fact-finding” missions to Kiev to see how Russia’s self-defence deployment there is going. No doubt Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy will greet them with open arms and show them at first-hand what a Russian defensive deployment looks like. – Is mise,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Further to Derek Scally's interesting and informative article "German rude awakening on Russia infuriated Poland" (February 25th), given that Germany decided some years ago to prematurely close its nuclear power stations, which resulted in a much greater dependence on Russian gas, and the significant reduction over a number of years of Germany's military capability, I wonder if we should reassess Angela Merkel's time as chancellor? – Yours, etc,


King’s Lynn, UK.

Sir, – Is there a difference between being neutral and being neutralised? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.