Russia has announced it will move controversial naval exercises out of Ireland’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The war games had angered Irish fishermen, who said up to 60 trawlers would continue to fish as normal in the area, peacefully disrupting the Russian manoeuvres.
But while Ireland did fire a broadside at Russia over the drills, it lacked the military muscle to do much else.
This evening, however, Russia’s ambassador to Ireland said the exercises would be moved.
Yury Filatov said in a statement: “In response to the requests from the Irish government as well as from the Irish South and West Fish Producer’s 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 February 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.”
Brendan Byrne of the Irish Fish Processors & Exporters Association told Sky News that he “welcomed the sensible decision”, and said that it was “a great boost for the fishing industry.”
Mr Byrne said that the Russians “may have miscalculated” in organising exercises in a lucrative fishing ground, and that “the Irish fishing industry wasn’t going to back down.” He said his organisation is now calling for a 10-year moratorium on naval exercises by any country within Ireland’s EEZ, for ecological and fishing reasons.
Ireland’s minister for foreign affairs Simon Coveney tweeted: “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.”
The planned naval exercises, against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis and with the strident response of Irish fishermen, had captured international media attention.
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