Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Ireland Is Europe’s weakest link

By Eoin Drea

08 Nov 2022 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

Ireland is a small country not known for its military might. But according to this FP analysis, the country’s inability to defend itself is exposing Europe to big strategic dangers.

Beginning on Feb. 3, only three weeks before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the Russian navy held military exercises on the edge of Ireland’s territorial waters. The Russian maneuvers took place above the densest concentration of undersea communications cables linking North America and Europe. Six months later, more Russian warships, including the cruiser Marshal Ustinov, were spotted acting unusually in the waters of Ireland’s exclusive economic zone.

There is a lot of nervousness in Western capitals about possible Russian sabotage of critical energy and communications infrastructure following a series of mysterious incidents—explosions destroying several Russo-German gas pipelines at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, Norway’s declaration of a military alert after drone sightings over strategic sites, and the disruption of key internet cables near the Shetland Islands. Russian President Vladimir Putin, that much is certain, is seeking additional ways to raise the discomfort level for the West to undermine its support for Ukraine.

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