Members of the Irish Defence Forces prepare a guard of honour in Dublin, Ireland, on the first day of President of Italy Sergio Mattarella's state visit to Ireland, 14 February 2018. EPA-EFE/Aidan Crawley


‘Neutral’ Ireland caught planning to give Ukrainian troops weapons training


European Union Member State Ireland has been caught planning to give Ukrainian troops weapons training, despite claiming to be a militarily neutral country regarding Kyiv’s conflict with Russia.

The Irish Government had announced that Irish defence forces staff would take part in the training of Ukrainian soldiers, although it initially insisted that such training would be non-lethal only, such as regarding mine clearance and first aid.

According to The Irish Times, such claims now appear to be false, with documents showing Irish personnel as earmarked to provide Ukrainians with weapons training as well as instructions on military tactics.

Marksmanship will also reportedly be taught by some of the 30 Irish troops who have been deployed to Germany and Poland to train Ukrainian forces in valuable battlefield skills.

Ireland’s defence department has now been forced to deny it had attempted to mislead the Irish public, with a spokesman saying it was always the plan to have Irish troops instruct their Ukrainian counterparts on how to operate combat rifles, for example.

Such training, the spokesman also insisted, posed “no conflict” with Ireland’s commitment to military neutrality, a long-time tradition of the country.

Claims that weapons and other forms of combat training were planned from the beginning have raised eyebrows, with such statements appearing to conflict with previous assertions made by Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheál Martin.

Announcing the training plans in February, Martin insisted that the skills taught by Irish troops would remain in line with Irish neutrality, seemingly despite efforts by ruling parties to undermine the policy in order to bolster ties with NATO.

Martin explicitly added that all the training would be for “non-lethal” skills, with a specific focus on clearing landmines.

Brussels Signal has approached Ireland’s Department of Defence and Defence Forces for comment but at the time of writing none had been forthcoming.