The Dublin and London governments have joined with the vast majority of the international community in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and no doubt have the support of virtually everybody in Northern Ireland for doing so.
It does beg the question however for the Dublin government in particular as to whether or not they are setting Russia a good example when it comes to respecting the sovereignty of smaller neighbours closer to home.
Russia has legitimate interests in Ukraine as Ireland has legitimate interests in Ulster. Many Russians consider Ukraine part of their ancient territory as Ireland considers Ulster part of its ancient territory.
Russia wants to protect the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine, as Ireland wants to protect the rights of Irish speakers in NI.
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A minority of Ukraine consider themselves culturally or ethnically Russia especially in the eastern regions, as a sizeable proportion of NI’s population consider themselves part of the Irish nation.
Russia didn’t want Ukraine to join the EU or NATO, as Ireland didn’t want the UK / NI to leave the EU.
In spite of these interests the unanimous opinion of the free world is that Russia doesn’t have the right to change Ukraine’s borders by force.
Clearly the Irish government is a better regime than the Russian government and the bureaucratic annexation of NI into the EU is nothing like as bad as the brutality of the military invasion that the Ukrainians are enduring.
But the principle of disrespecting the sovereignty of a smaller neighbour remains the same. The Dublin government’s demands for an Irish sea border has brought pressure on a smaller neighbour to change its borders without seeking consent, which has included everything from the entire EU, the threat of IRA violence, and even American steel tariffs to crush the will of a comparatively small group of Ulster loyalists.
Is the Dublin government’s position really that much more honourable than that of Russia simply by virtue of fact that their annexation is taking place with bureaucracy rather than military force?
Mr R G McDowell, Belfast BT5
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