The Russian Ambassador should be summoned to answer questions about the activities of two Russian ships in Irish waters.
The Defence Forces yesterday said both the Air Corps and the Naval Service were monitoring the two ships, with analysts warning they pose a risk to underwater fibre optic transatlantic cables that connect the European Union (EU) with the US.
The ships appeared to move away from Irish waters in the direction of Africa earlier this week but have since returned to waters off the southwest coast.
This morning, Cork South West TD Michael Collins said the Russian Ambassador Yury Filatov must explain what the ships are doing in Irish waters.
“Certainly, I think the Russian Ambassador should be called in to answer for these activities and to prove to Irish officials that this was just an issue of weather and them having no place to pull in for shelter,” he said.
“That is somewhat understandable but certainly what is not understandable is a non-proper explanation and what is not acceptable either is that Ireland can’t properly protect itself.”
Deputy Collins said Ireland has left itself vulnerable to Russian ships – with no suitable aircraft to monitor them.
He said the Kremlin should have informed Irish officials about what was happening.
“The Russians are saying that it might have been due to weather,” he said.
“That they had to come in closer to the usual areas that they would close but at the end of the day that surely could be communicated to the Irish and the Irish Navy and the Irish government – and it looks like it wasn’t.”
Yesterday, security expert, Senator Tom Clonan told Newstalk that the ships are well-known to the Irish defence community.
He said one of them has a diving platform and is carrying deep-sea submersibles.
He warned that the undersea cables between Ireland and the US are “really, really critical pieces of infrastructure" that carry around one-third of the world’s online data.
Main image is a split-screen showing Russian Ambassador Yury Filatov and the L.É. Eithne Irish Navy ship.