Russian ambassador praises Sabina Higgins letter calling for negotiated settlement in Ukraine

Yuriy Filatov warned continued support for Ukraine will only mean more Ukrainian deaths

Russia’s ambassador to Ireland has welcomed the intervention of Sabina Higgins, wife of President Michael D Higgins, who has called for a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine.

Yuriy Filatov said he agreed with the points made by Mrs Higgins in a letter she wrote to The Irish Times earlier this week.

“Under the circumstances [the letter] suggests that everything should be done to end the hostilities as quickly as possible,” he told the Irish Times. “I wouldn’t want to intrude in internal affairs but the point of view, it makes sense. She’s against war. We’re all against war.”

In the letter, Mrs Higgins, a veteran anti-war campaigner, said that fighting between Russia and Ukraine would continue until the leaders of the countries were persuaded to agree a ceasefire and enter negotiations.


“This is surely a moment of moral choice. Concerned people of the world anxious to live together in peace and sustainability must demand that this war be brought to an end so that lives are saved, and there is a lessening of the suffering, and the reconstruction of lives and livelihoods can begin.”

Mr Filatov said Mrs Higgins’ suggestion of peace talks tallied with Russia’s position.

“We even undertook negotiations in March with Ukraine in Istanbul and we had been very close to an agreement but they walked away. I don’t think it was their decision, it was a decision made elsewhere.”

The peace talks ended after a few days with no breakthroughs and each side accusing the other of failing to negotiate in good faith. Turkey is still trying to revive them.

“But now it will be dialogue on completely different conditions than it could have been in March. That should be also understood,” he added. “I’m pretty sure the [Russian] operation will reach its goals, but with a heavy price to pay. And I think it’s not a good way of thinking. That’s what I read in the letter.”

The ambassador praised a recent article by UCC historian Prof Geoffrey Roberts, who wrote that for peace to be achieved, Ukraine must accept it is not going to regain territory lost to date. In her letter, Mrs Higgins also complimented the article, which described the conflict as proxy war between the West and Russia.

Mr Fitalov claimed the failure of the talks “certainly points to the fact that bothers Mrs Higgins, that it’s a proxy war by US and Nato which takes lives,” referencing a frequent Russian government talking point that Nato is behind the war.

Mrs Higgins did not herself mention a proxy war in her letter.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times