*Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney (FG) with European counterparts.
The past week has been nothing short of extraordinary. World events are hard to keep up with at the best of times, but the largest attack by one sovereign state on another in Europe since the second World War.
The shocking scenes were well flagged in advance by various western security and intelligence services as Putin attempted to lay out a fabricated grounds for war. Having written in this column recently about Ireland shoddy “neutrality” argument, that policy has well and truly been exposed as farcical in the modern world. Hence, the moves by the Irish Government, in unison with our European allies, to roundly condemn Russia and support Ukraine is a welcome one.
In the face of tyranny and barbarism, one cannot be neutral. UN sanctioned or not, I personally have no issue with Shannon airport being used to facilitate the supply of Ukraine with supplies and munitions as they fight for their very survival.
It is apparent that the misinformation campaign, more commonly known as propaganda, from Russia has been a total failure. A regime well known for its ability to fund and sow seeds of misinformation, from the Brexit campaign to US and French elections, and potentially within Ireland too, has completely failed to convince even its own people of the merits of invading a neighbouring country. Scarcely ever has the reply from the international community been so swift. Russia finds itself all but cut off from the western world, and even some of its allies have turned their backs on the Kremlin.
China has stayed out of it, watching on in trepidation at the tsunami of economic and cultural sanction that have befallen Russia. Safe to say, the response may well temper any Chinese plans for Taiwan in the future. On the flip side, the power of social media for good has been highlighted by the outpouring of messages from Ukraine, from ordinary citizens and elected officials and even enlisted military personnel, has helped galvanise support for the country of 44 million in the face of such a horrendous attack.
The Irish response has been channelled mainly through European institutions in lock step with other EU nations, proving once more post Brexit that the 27 remaining countries are well capable to move with unity. Nevertheless, 2 of Ireland’s MEP’s still remain steadfast in letting the country down. Dublin’s Clare Daly and Mick Wallace of Ireland South (including Co. Clare) voted this week not to support Ukraine and even to delay indefinitely EU membership for the country.
Given all that has transpired in the past 10 days or so, their voting on our behalf remains wedded to the Kremlin line, regardless of what few words they publicly utter on the topic. They were 2 of just 13 MEP’s across all of Europe to vote in such a manner. This is something I do hope Clare voters keep in mind when we’re asked to vote in European election again in just over 2 years.
In the interim, Ireland and the rest of the world needs to stand square on the side of decency, against misinformation, against tyranny and show the world that if you act a rouge state and endanger and threaten others, the consequences will be dire, even if they are not military consequences themselves. Few moments in world history have a sea change feel about them. This is certainly one of them. Putin’s invasion will reshape the world, but it is too early to know just exactly how it will reshape in the aftermath.
Will we see a new Cold War, or will Putin’s regime end up deposed, or, God forbid, could this even lead to all out war? I am no military expert, nor one on Russian internal politics, so, like everyone else, I too shall wait with bated breath with one eye on Ukraine for the time being, praying that a peaceful solution can be found sooner, rather than later. After all, we have more in common with the people of Ukraine than the Clare colours!