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Russia’s embassy in Dublin rejects reports of buffer zones in upcoming Atlantic drills

Earlier, Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov said that all the rules pertaining to the safety of air and maritime traffic were strictly followed

LONDON, January 28. /TASS/. The creation of any buffer zones in the area of Russia’s upcoming naval drills in the northeastern Atlantic was not discussed at a meeting between Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov and Irish fish producers, the diplomatic mission in Dublin told TASS on Friday, commenting on local fishermen’s statements.

"After the meeting that happened yesterday between the Ambassador and the representatives of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organization, there were reports that there has been some kind of ‘agreement’ on some kind of ‘buffer zones’ in the area of the upcoming naval drills of the Russian Navy in the Atlantic, which is not true," the diplomatic mission emphasized.

"The Ambassador has listened carefully to the concerns that the Irish fishermen expressed and explained to them that these drills will not harm their interests in any way," it said.

"He also urged them to refrain from any provocative actions which might endanger all involved. All in all, the meeting was good, productive and led to a better understanding of the whole situation by both sides," the Russian diplomatic mission stressed.

Following the results of the meeting yesterday, Head of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association Brandan Byrne said that an understanding had been reached to open "a pathway for coexistence for the naval exercises and for our fishing fleet." However, as the British Sky News TV Channel reported, he mentioned buffer zones that could be allegedly created between Russian vessels and Irish trawlers.

Dublin’s fears

Irish fishermen and the country’s government members earlier made statements expressing their fear that the upcoming naval drills could cause potential damage to marine flora and fauna. In particular, they argued that the active use of military sonars could pose a danger to cetacean species.

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin stated on Tuesday that the naval exercises in international waters off the country’s coast "are not welcome," adding that "there is an ecological issue here."

Embassy’s position

Russia’s Ambassador to Dublin Filatov told TASS on January 24 that the Irish authorities had no grounds for concern over the upcoming Russian naval maneuvers, about which "the Irish side was duly notified" and that all the rules pertaining to the safety of air and maritime traffic were strictly followed.

The Russian diplomat dismissed as "extremely exaggerated" the story with the naval drills due to take place in February in international waters but within Ireland’s exclusive economic zone.

The Russian ambassador also pointed out that such drills were held in the Atlantic on a regular basis and not only by Russia but also by other states.

Russian naval drills

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced last week that a series of naval drills would be held in January-February this year in all the areas of responsibility of the Navy’s fleets under the general command of Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov.

As the ministry stressed, the naval maneuvers will focus on measures by the Navy and the Aerospace Force to protect Russia’s national interests in the World Ocean and counter military threats to Russia from the direction of seas and oceans.

The drills will cover the seas adjacent to Russian territory and also operationally important areas of the World Ocean. Separate drills will run in the Mediterranean, North and Okhotsk Seas, in the northeastern Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.

Overall, the sweeping drills will bring together over 140 warships and support vessels, more than 60 aircraft, 1,000 items of military hardware and about 10,000 troops.