Four Russian diplomats are being expelled from Ireland for “security reasons”.
Aoiseach Micheál Martin made the announcement in the Dáil today after Russian Ambassador Yuriy Filatov was invited to Iveagh House to meet Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney.
Mr. Martin surprised the TDs when he explained: “Following the 1961 Vienna Convention, four senior officials at the Russian embassy were ordered to leave the state – because their activities were not in line with international standards of diplomatic conduct.”
Such phraseology is usually recognized as code for engaging in espionage activities.
The Taoiseach stated, “I would have received a security briefing yesterday, and the Secretary of State would also have received a security briefing.
“I met with our national security team yesterday regarding this. And pursuant to Article 9 of the 1961 Vienna Convention, we have taken these actions.
“Nevertheless, we believe that the diplomatic channels between the Russian Federation and the state should remain open, so that we can express our disgust at the war and basically maintain the diplomatic channels – but also to protect our citizens in Russia. “
In a statement, Secretary of State Simon Coveney said: “This afternoon the State Department called the Russian Ambassador to Iveagh House to advise him that four senior officials have been ordered to leave the state.
“This is because their activities did not meet international standards of diplomatic conduct. This action is taken pursuant to Article 9 of the 1961 Vienna Convention.”
However, the Russian embassy in Dublin replied this afternoon that it “rejects such qualifications of the work of our diplomats. This is an arbitrary, unfounded decision that can only further deteriorate Russian-Irish relations, which have already been damaged by Irish involvement in illegitimate EU sanctions against Russia.”
“The embassy assumes that such a step by the Irish side will not go unanswered,” it said in a statement.
There are currently 31 known diplomatic staff working at the embassy on Orwell Road, south Dublin.
Three other EU countries also expelled diplomats today. Belgium has expelled 21 for alleged espionage and threats to security. The Netherlands kicks out 17 Russians while the Czech Republic gave a Russian diplomat 72 hours to leave.
In the Dáil, Sinn Féin Chairwoman Mary Lou McDonald demanded the full facts surrounding the Irish expulsions and the names of the officers.
She said her party had called for the expulsion not only of the ambassador but of all his staff.
“Russia should not be left with the cloak of respectability of a diplomatic footprint in Europe.”
She asked “who these high-ranking officials are and what behavior marks them out for expulsion.”
Mr Martin said the action was under Article 9 of the Vienna Convention and he did not want to reveal the content of the safety briefings the government had received.
He did not name the people involved.
Ms McDonald said: “All of us hope very much that there will be positive progress in the talks (Russia-Ukraine) in Istanbul today.
“We know that the war must end and that peace and diplomacy must prevail. But we have been telling you for a long time that Ireland must keep all the pressure on as this illegal war is ongoing and Russia is violating international law so viciously and with such audacity.
“So the call was for the ambassador and all staff to be expelled. Russia should not be left with the cloak of respectability of a diplomatic footprint in Europe.”
She asked Mr. Martin “to give us the facts surrounding the expulsion of these four people”.
Ms Bacik, meanwhile, commended the Taoiseach and Mr Coveney for their actions and said she hoped the government would see fit to expel Ambassador Filatov as well.
She said: “I really welcome this (movement). I would like to ask you, does this mean that the position of the Russian ambassador is under threat even now? I very much hope that you will see fit to expel him.”
Mr Martin said the expulsion of four senior officials at the Embassy of the Russian Federation was because their behavior “did not meet international standards of diplomatic conduct.
“We are doing this under Article 9 of the 1961 Vienna Convention and I do not wish to disclose the terms of the safety briefing we would have received in relation to these individuals.
“But in my opinion it was the right decision, the right decision in terms of overall national security – but also in terms of sending a very clear message, including in relation to the war against Ukraine.”
Mr Martin seemed to emphasize the spying alternative to any sign of disgust at the invasion of Ukraine, saying: “The decision is based primarily on the briefings we have received from security officials regarding the behavior of these individuals.
“That’s why the State Department summoned the ambassador today.”
He said some of the EU’s Baltic states have already taken steps “in relation to the return of civil servants to the Russian Federation”.
But he added: “No EU member state has yet expelled an ambassador.”
Mr. Martin pointed out that activities in Ireland were also linked to other countries.
“We did it (took action) with some countries today in relation to these actions and officials. We have worked with other countries on this initiative,” Mr Martin told the Dáil.
But he said it had not been possible to get all the EU-27 countries to work on the same kind of agenda.
“As for the Ambassador, we’re committed to keeping the channels open. We believe this is important in terms of protecting citizens and also in terms of maintaining the canal to communicate our disgust at war directly to the government of the Russian Federation.”
It would also allow for humanitarian aid and any assistance that our citizens in Russia or even certain areas of Ukraine might need, he said.
“It is important that diplomatic channels are maintained and kept open and that is the motivation behind this decision not to expel the Russian ambassador at this time.”
Ms Bacik said the Labor Party has consistently stood by the people of Ukraine and Syria as they endured “horrific bombings and attacks from Putin”.
She added: “We have stood by the people of Yemen and Palestine and we can now see daily the appalling suffering the people of Ukraine and Mariupol are suffering, just as the people of Aleppo suffered under the siege.”
She commended the government for “expelling four senior diplomats from the Russian Federation so quickly and in such a welcome manner.”
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/ireland-to-expel-four-russian-diplomats-for-security-reasons-in-what-embassy-calls-an-arbitrary-groundless-decision-41499741.html Ireland is expelling four Russian diplomats for “security reasons” in what the embassy describes as an “arbitrary, unfounded decision”.