Irish PM: Non-lethal aid to Ukraine not against military neutrality

Foreign and Defence Minister Simon Coveney said on Monday that, under the mechanism, countries uncomfortable with supplying lethal aid would have the option of providing alternative forms of assistance.  [EPA-EFE/Marta Perez]

Ireland will primarily contribute non-lethal supplies as part of the EU’s military aid package for Ukraine after deciding not to provide weaponry in line with its policy of military neutrality. Read more.

It is “very understandable” that the EU had chosen to activate the European Peace Facility instrument through which military aid will be provided to Ukraine by EU member countries, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Monday. This will be the first time that the EU purchased lethal weaponry for a third party state.

Foreign and Defence Minister Simon Coveney said on Monday that, under the mechanism, countries uncomfortable with supplying lethal aid would have the option of providing alternative forms of assistance.

Following its traditional policy of military neutrality, Ireland’s €9 million contributions will therefore go towards providing non-lethal materials such as medical supplies, fuel, helmets and vests. Malta and Austria will reportedly take a similar approach.

“Our contribution to the non-lethal strand of the peace facility does not undermine our military neutrality”, Martin told journalists on Monday.

“We are not politically neutral and have never been politically neutral in the sense that we uphold democratic values and democratic principles”, he said. “And that is why the peace facility has been constructed in that way – enabling countries with a military neutrality policy and tradition to abstain,” he added.

“The bottom line is we’re not funding defence, but we are going to contribute, and Ireland’s main contribution here would be in the field of medical supplies, humanitarian supplies.”, he said, adding that it would be “unthinkable” for Ireland to in any way block the provision of lethal weapons by other European governments.

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