5.9k Share this

Russia will hold live-fire naval drills off the coast of Ireland next month, Moscow has announced amid escalating tensions with the West. 

Battleships will take part in sea drills around 150 miles off Ireland’s southwest coast, within the country’s ‘exclusive economic zone’ but outside territorial waters.

Foreign Minister Simon Coveney revealed on Monday that Russia has informed Ireland about the drills and that his country ‘doesn’t have the power to stop this from happening’ – but added that Russia’s presence is ‘not welcome’. 

The drill will form part of much broader Russian naval exercises involving 140 ships, 60 aircraft and 10,000 troops from all of its naval fleets that will take place in the Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, North Sea and Sea of Okhotsk.

It comes against the backdrop of Russia’s troop build-up on the border of Ukraine, which has sparked fears of a war in Europe and a standoff between East and West.  

Russia is planning to hold live-fire naval drills off the Irish coast next month, with Dublin saying the ships are 'not welcome' (file image, Russian ships near Saint Petersburg last year)

Russia is planning to hold live-fire naval drills off the Irish coast next month, with Dublin saying the ships are 'not welcome' (file image, Russian ships near Saint Petersburg last year)

Russia is planning to hold live-fire naval drills off the Irish coast next month, with Dublin saying the ships are ‘not welcome’ (file image, Russian ships near Saint Petersburg last year)

The UK and US have begun withdrawing staff from their embassies in Ukraine today due to the risk of a Russian attack, while European foreign ministers met in Brussels with the aim of putting on a united front against Moscow.  

‘All members of the European Union are united. We are showing unprecedented unity about the situation in Ukraine, with the strong coordination with the U.S.,’ EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in Brussels.

Asked whether the EU would withdraw its own diplomats from Ukraine, Borrell he would not follow suit and warned against ‘dramatising’ the situation.

He added that he is not aware of any specific threat against European embassy staff, and would like to speak more with Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the US decision to pull his staff out. 

During Monday’s meeting, which Blinken will attend virtually, the ministers will restate Europe´s condemnation of the Russian military build-up near Ukraine, involving an estimated 100,000 troops, tanks, artillery and heavy equipment, diplomats and officials said ahead of the meeting.

They´ll renew calls for dialogue, notably through the European-backed ‘Normandy format,’ which helped to ease hostilities in 2015, a year after Putin ordered the annexation of Ukraine´s Crimean Peninsula. Fighting in eastern Ukraine has killed around 14,000 people and still simmers today.

Ireland's foreign minister Simon Coveney (left) raised concerns about the drills as he arrived in Brussels for talks where states are expected to present a common front against Moscow

Ireland's foreign minister Simon Coveney (left) raised concerns about the drills as he arrived in Brussels for talks where states are expected to present a common front against Moscow

Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney (left) raised concerns about the drills as he arrived in Brussels for talks where states are expected to present a common front against Moscow

Should Putin move on Ukraine again, the ministers will warn, Russia would face ‘massive consequences and severe costs.’ Those costs would be of a financial and political nature. The EU insists that it stands ready to slap hefty sanctions on Russia within days of any attack.

‘We don´t know what the Russians are going to do, but what we are talking about is basically the most important security development in Europe since the end of the Cold War,’ a senior EU official said. ‘The response of the European Union will be at the level of the challenge.’

The official and diplomats briefed reporters on condition of anonymity so that they could speak more freely about the meeting preparations.

Over the weekend, some of the member countries closest to Russia – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – confirmed that they plan to send U.S.-made anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, a move endorsed by the United States.

But questions have been raised about just how unified the EU is. Diverse political, business and energy interests have long divided the 27-country bloc in its approach to Moscow. Around 40% of the EU´s natural gas imports come from Russia, much of it via pipelines across Ukraine.

An instructor trains members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

An instructor trains members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

An instructor trains members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine’s army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Gas prices have skyrocketed, and the head of the International Energy Agency has said that Russian energy giant Gazprom was already reducing its exports to the EU in late 2021 despite high prices. Putin says Gazprom is respecting its contract obligations, not putting the squeeze on Europe.

The EU´s two major powers appear most cautious. Germany´s Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia, which is complete but yet to pump gas, has become a bargaining chip. French President Emmanuel Macron has renewed previously rejected calls for an EU summit with Putin.

Late last year, France and Germany initially expressed doubts about U.S. intelligence assessments that Moscow might be preparing to invade.

Late on Saturday, the head of the German navy, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schoenbach, resigned after coming under fire for saying that Ukraine would not regain the Crimean Peninsula, and for suggesting that Putin deserves ‘respect.’

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban plans to meet with Putin next week to discuss a Russian-backed project to expand a Hungarian nuclear power plant.

Still, diplomats and officials said hard-hitting sanctions are being drawn up with the EU´s executive branch, the European Commission. But they were reluctant to say what the measures might be or what action by Russia might trigger them.

The aim, they said, is to try to match the doubts Putin has sowed about his intentions for Ukraine with uncertainty about what any retaliatory European action might look like, or when it would come.

One diplomat refused to discuss the matter at all. Another suggested that a layered response might be in preparation, with different levels of retaliation depending on whether a cyberattack, rocket strike, or all-out invasion was launched.

A third was confident there would be no arguments over the trigger point, saying: ‘We´ll know it when we see it.’

For now, though, the Europeans must wait and see whether Putin is satisfied with progress in talks with the United States, coordinate with Blinken on a response should things go wrong, and bank on the economic deterrent posed by the EU being Russia´s biggest trading partner.

Source: Daily Mail

5.9k Share this
You May Also Like

Dave Chappelle Attacker Charged with Attempted Murder in Alleged December Stabbing

The armed assailant who was arrested earlier is this month after storming…

Britain’s biggest lottery winners have eyes on £7.25m Cotswolds mansion near Jeremy Clarkson’s farm

A couple who recently became Britain’s biggest ever EuroMillions winners after landing…

I Expect Biden Admin. Will Find ‘Crafty’ Ways to Work Around Title 42 Ruling

On Friday’s broadcast of the Fox Business Network’s “Evening Edit,” Rep. Kat…

Triple tornado terror hits Germany as wild weather rips through city to leave trail of destruction

A freak storm which spawned three tornados and ‘snapped trees like matches’…

Wagatha Christie libel trial: Lawyers reveal documents from Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy case

These are the sensational posts and images at the heart of the…

Donald Trump considered QUITTING 2016 race over Access Hollywood tape, Kellyanne Conway claims

Donald Trump considered dropping out of the 2016 presidential race amid fallout…

Missing schoolgirl, 12, found after she vanished and refused to tell parents where she was

Missing Manchester schoolgirl found after 12-year-old vanished and refused to tell parents…

Body positive influencer reveals she was blasted for posting a ‘nice photo’ that was ‘off-brand’

A body positive influencer, who is well-known for sharing ‘unflattering’ images with her…