‘An act of solidarity with our nearest neighbour’. This is how Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, described proposals to expel Russian diplomats.
More precisely, it is an act of solidarity with the British Tory party and its attempt to stir up a new cold war with Russia.
Vladimir Putin is an authoritarian thug who has cracked down on dissent. He has waged a terrible war in Syria to further his imperial interests.
But Fine Gael has little interest in these matters. Their primary ambition is to erode Irish neutrality and bring Ireland closer to an EU defence pact. Their first big move was pushing Ireland into PESCO. Their second is the expulsion of Russia diplomats.
Ireland has never expelled diplomats for action that have taken place in other countries.
Nor was any British diplomat was expelled after the Dublin-Monaghan bombings in 1973. No action was taken against Britain when it refused an Irish government request to open its files on the issue for inspection.
The moves against Russia have all the appearance of an orchestrated PR campaign – similar to past campaigns about Iraq possessing ‘weapons of mass destruction’.
Whatever the ultimate truth of what happened in Salisbury, the reality is that the Novichok materials that were used in an attempted murder were manufactured in Uzbekistan – which is now a NATO country.
There is an international Chemical Weapons Convention which contains a provision for dealing with chemical attacks. Article 9 states that countries should ‘make every effort to clarify and resolve, through exchange of information… any matter which may cause doubt about compliance with this Convention’.
Yet Britain has refused to share its information the materials used with Russia or to send them samples. No adequate explanation has been given for why it will not comply with the convention.
Fine Gael’s action is lining Ireland up with Trump and the EU in a dangerous move to involve us in a new Cold War. Unlike the past, there is no pretence at a great ideological divide between the ‘free world’ and ‘communist Russia’
The new cold war is simply about one set of imperialist countries ratchetting up their rivalries with another. The EU and the US want to contain Russia and allow NATO to encircle it. Putin wants to break out of Russia’s enforced weakness.
The Irish people have no interest in such conflicts. We should stay out of them.