Sanctions will hurt Ireland more than us, warns Russia
Russian diplomat's ominous warning over EU threats
THE Russian Ambassador to Ireland has warned the Government that Ireland will suffer serious economic consequences if it supports further European Union sanctions against the superpower.
Maxim Peshkov said future restrictions imposed on Russia would be a "double-edged blade" for the Irish economy, which currently exports €637m worth of goods and services to Russia every year.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Peshkov said his country would not change its stance on the Crimean region of the Ukraine and would "analyse and answer" further sanctions imposed on the country.
Irish firms exported goods and services worth about €637m to Russia last year, making Russia one of our more important trade partners outside the EU and US. Irish farmers exported around €90m worth of meat products.
However, Ireland's imports from Russia over the same period amounted to just €142m.
The crisis escalated yesterday when a Ukrainian soldier became the first fatal casualty of the confrontation in the Crimea.
A Ukrainian military spokesman confirmed that shots had been fired and one serviceman had died of wounds to his neck and collarbone.
The European Union and the US imposed travel bans and blocked access to international assets belonging to senior Russian officials after Russia supported the Crimean referendum seeking independence from the Ukraine.
Minister for European Affairs Paschal Donohoe condemned Russia’s recognition of the “illegal” referendum in the Ukraine and warned that further sanctions will be imposed if it does not withdraw its support.
Mr Peshkov would not speculate on President Vladimir Putin’s response to the escalating stand-off between the West and Russia, but said Ireland could face repercussion as a trading partner.
“You can make any decision you want, but you must take into consideration that any type of sanctions are a double-edged blade,” Mr Peshkov said.
“If you want to impose sanctions, that’s your business. Our business is to analyse and answer. What this answer will be will depend on the real situation.”
He added: “We won’t keep silent and we will answer.”
He said the impact on the Irish economy would depend on the type of sanctions imposed on his country.
He said: “Our trade with Ireland is not very wide, maybe a little bit less than €1bn a year.
“Ireland, at the same time, is within the first dozen countries investing in our economy. We have rather good relations with Ireland – trade relations, economic relations, cultural and so on. But I must repeat any sanctions are a double-edged blade.”
Mr Peshkov said Russia has trade agreements exceeding €460bn with Europe and warned that if these ties were broken it could be “very painful” for Ireland and the rest of the continent.
He said: “It is not the first time that somebody tried to impose sanctions against our country. We are not terrified at all.”
He added: “Europe and the US are not the whole world and we have partners elsewhere.
“We have good relations with China, Brazil, India and with many other countries. And they understand our position. They won’t be part of any kind of sanctions against Russia.”
He said Russia “will never start any military action against anybody” but warned “if anybody will try, let them try”.
He said his recent meeting with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore was ”constructive”. Ireland has supported all EU actions on the Ukrainian conflict and is likely to back any future developments.