Romney praises ‘brave’ protests against Russian ambassador in Ireland

Former US presidential candidate Mitt Romney has praised what he described as the “brave” protests against the Russian ambassador in Ireland.

Speaking on US television on Sunday, Republican Senator Mr Romney said his hope was that Russian President Vladimir Putin would realise he had made a “huge error” and “badly miscalculated” the invasion of Ukraine, partially because of how the world had responded.

“There’s been a response that I don’t think Putin had anticipated,” he told CNN. “I hope that he is wisening up to the stupidity of what he is doing,” Mr Romney said.

“Nato has come together, Germany are now saying that they are going to be investing far more in their military capacity, providing more weapons – the world is behind Ukraine.”

“Look at those brave people in Ireland stopping the Russian ambassador, we should be doing that all over the world, by the way.” On Friday, a car attempting to enter the Russian embassy in Rathgar was blocked by protestors.

Ealier, Minister of State for EU Affairs Thomas Byrne had said he was “proud” of Fianna Fáil party colleagues who had called for the expulsion of the ambassador.

Mr Byrne said the expulsion of Russian diplomats from EU countries was “under discussion”.

It comes amid growing pressure in Ireland for Mr Filatov to be expelled from the country over the actions of Russian in Ukraine.

On Saturday evening, nearly 40 Fianna Fáil TDs, Senators and MEPs signed a petition calling on Mr Filatov to be ejected from Ireland.

The list included TDs Jim O’Callaghan and Dara Calleary, as well as Senators Lisa Chambers and Fiona O’Loughlin.

The chair of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee and senior Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan also tweeted a call for the ambassador to be forced to leave Ireland.

“I’m very proud of my Fianna Fáil colleagues who have taken consistently a proud stand for Ukraine, for democracy and against the autocracy in Russia over the years, particularly in the European Parliament, but also in the Dáil and yesterday,” Mr Byrne told the BBC on Sunday.

He indicated that such action was being discussed in the EU, but cautioned such a move would lead to a response from Russia.

“It’s under discussion, there’s no question, but it’ll be done on a European level.

“I think we’ll have much greater effect if we all make a move together.

“There are certain factors we have to take into account.

“You must keep lines of communication open, but also you must ensure that your own diplomats in Russia are not kicked out either because then you’re at a disadvantage, obviously then dealing with Irish citizens or other European citizens who may be there.

“So, this is certainly under discussion at a European level. My preference will be to deal with this as part of a common approach.”

According to the Sunday Independent, Minister for Foreign Affairs told the paper that he expects Ireland to expel some Russian diplomats as part of the next set of EU sanctions, but will stop short of expelling Mr Filatov.

Mr Coveney told the paper that not having a line of communication to Moscow would be a “mistake”. – Additional reporting PA

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