Irish premier and 51 other politicians and officials sanctioned by Russia

Russia has placed sanctions on Irish premier Micheal Martin and 51 other Irish ministers, politicians and officials.

In a statement on Telegram, the Kremlin said the action was being taken “in response to the anti-Russian course of the Irish government”.

Among the 52 “key representatives” of Ireland are Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney, Minister of Justice Helen McEntee and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

The chair of the Irish parliament’s lower house, Sean O’Fearghail, is also included on the list.

Mr Martin said he was not aware of his sanctioning until Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond asked him about it in the Dail chamber.

“It’s a new development, don’t think I’ve ever been sanctioned before, so I have to be updated on that and see what the implications of that are,” he said.

He said it is “part of a broader propaganda war being raged by Russia” and solidarity across Europe is needed.

When asked if he will close the Russian embassy in Dublin in response, Mr Martin said: “Diplomacy matters in the end of the day, no matter how unpalatable it can be at certain times, so I think cool heads are always required in situations like this.”

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Varadkar said the reason he was being sanctioned was because the Irish government was “standing full square behind Ukraine”.

“Ukraine is an independent, sovereign, democratic European country that has been invaded and Russia is the aggressor here, Ukraine is the victim,” he said.

“And I’m proud of the fact that we as a country are standing behind Ukraine. And I don’t think anyone who’s seen the events of last couple of days – when millions of people in Ukraine have been plunged into darkness and plunged into cold – can have any doubt about which country is on the right side here and which country is in the wrong.”

Asked whether it was time to ask Russian ambassador to leave Ireland, Mr Varadkar echoed the Taoiseach’s words in calling for “cool heads”.

“This is a time for cool heads,” he said.

“We have imposed sanctions on Russian politicians, leaders and business people in the past. They are now imposing them on Irish citizens. And I’m just one of 50 I believe, who’s on that list.

“And yet throughout that, we have maintained diplomatic relations, even countries that are at war with each other maintain diplomatic relations. So I think we need to consider anything like that very carefully.”

Commenting on her inclusion on the sanctions list, Ms McEntee said: “I stand by anything that I’ve said in relation to Russia and the ongoing barbaric and illegal war that is being waged on Ukraine.

“Like my colleagues, I stand fully behind the people of Ukraine and whatever comes of that decision by the Russian government, that’s their decision.

“But it certainly won’t change my views and my position and the fact that we need to support Ukraine and all of their citizens in any way that we can.”

Mr Coveney said Ireland will be making “no apology” for being “on the side of international law, the UN Charter, the side of Ukraine and the right side of history”.

“Russia should end its illegal war of aggression, stop killing innocent civilians and shelling of infrastructure,” he added.

Making the announcement, the Kremlin said: “Acting under the dictation of Brussels, Ireland is conducting an aggressive anti-Russian propaganda campaign, a course has been taken to curtail bilateral cooperation to the detriment of its own interests.

“One of the consequences of fuelling Russophobic hysteria in Irish society was the attack on the Russian Embassy in Dublin in March of this year.”

It said it would be “guided by the position of Dublin” in relation to further measures.