Envoy challenges military body’s ‘bogeyman’ portrayal of Russia

Russia’s Ambassador to Ireland, Yuriy Filatov, has challenged the Defense Force Commission for trying to portray his country as a “bogeyman” and a threat to Irish security in its report this week.

The government-appointed commission identified the activities of Russia and China, as well as Islamic and right-wing extremists, as part of growing risks to Irish national security.

Mr Filatov said that while the government-appointed commission’s report was an internal matter for Ireland, he “can only note an attempt by the commission to buttress its findings with a notion of a threat allegedly posed by the Russia for the security of Ireland”. .

“Any unbiased observer would be hard pressed to find any evidence of such a ‘threat’. Attempts to portray Russia as a boogie [sic] are misplaced and regrettable,” the ambassador said in a statement released by the Russian Embassy.

His spokesperson later clarified that he meant “bogeyman”.

The Kremlin envoy to Dublin dismissed as “totally unfounded” the conclusions of the EU Council and EU foreign ministers cited in the report referring to “aggressive actions” by Russia.

He described it as unnecessary at a time of heightened tensions with the West over Ukraine.

“These insinuations are not only baseless; they are also particularly unnecessary in these times of great tension in Europe, created by the United States and its NATO allies,” the ambassador said.

“We believe the time has come to make mature and responsible decisions, which would not be based on political fiction, but on reality.”

Protect Ireland

The committee’s report refers to last month’s statement by EU foreign ministers condemning “Russia’s continued aggressive actions and threats against Ukraine”.

The report concluded that the Defense Force was ill-equipped to deal with external threats and that maintaining the capability of the Irish military at current levels would leave the state without a credible military capability to protect Ireland, its people. and its resources.

Under the title “Increased Great Power Competition and Geostrategic Change,” the report says the notion of a “strategic partnership” between Russia and the West has been “upended by Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. , its support for separatist forces in Ukraine and the current overt threats against Ukraine and heightened concerns about hybrid threats against Western democracies.

Hybrid threats have been defined as a mixture of “coercive and subversive activities, conventional and unconventional methods” used in a “coordinated manner by state or non-state actors to achieve specific objectives, while remaining below the threshold of formally declared war.

Without naming Russia, the report refers to planes flying “undetected” in Irish-controlled airspace off the west coast with their transponders turned off, a practice undertaken by Russian bombers in recent years.

Last month, Russia agreed to move planned naval exercises off the southwest coast of Ireland to an area outside the state’s exclusive economic zone after requests from Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney and groups of fishermen to move them.