Russia to Move Planned Military Drills Away From Irish Coast

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
January 30, 2022Updated: January 30, 2022

Russia will move its planned military drills outside Ireland’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) following a request from the Irish government, officials from both countries have confirmed.

The planned artillery drills caused considerable controversy in Ireland after it emerged that they were slated to take place in early February about 150 miles in international waters off Ireland’s southwest coast, within its airspace and exclusive economic zone.

Irish fishermen had planned to travel to the area to disrupt the Russian naval plans in a bid to protect their fishing stock.

Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said on Jan. 29 that he has received assurances from his Russian counterpart that the drills will be relocated.

Coveney wrote on Twitter: “This week I wrote to my counterpart, the Minister of Defence of Russia, to request a reconsideration of naval exercises off the Irish coast. This evening I received a letter confirming the Russian exercises will be relocated outside of Ireland’s EEZ. I welcome this response.”

In a statement, the Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov said, “In response to the requests from the Irish government as well as from the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, the Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation Sergey Shoigu has made a decision, as a gesture of goodwill, to relocate the exercises by the Russian Navy, planned for Feb. 3–8, outside the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ), with the aim not to hinder fishing activities by the Irish vessels in the traditional fishing areas.”

Russia has massed an estimated 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border, demanding that Ukraine not join NATO.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told the BBC on Jan. 30 that there is “no certainty about the intentions” of Russia, but there is a “real risk” of an imminent Russian attack on Ukraine.

Russia has denied it is planning an invasion, and it says the Western accusations are merely a cover for NATO’s own planned provocations.

Coveney said on Jan. 24 that the planned drills off the Irish coast were “not welcome,” as “this isn’t a time to increase military activity and tension in the context of what’s happening with and in Ukraine.”

He added that Ireland doesn’t have the “power to prevent this happening but, certainly, I’ve made it clear to the Russian ambassador in Ireland that it’s not welcome.”

Jack Phillips and PA Media contributed to this report.