Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan has described images on Russian State television of a simulated nuclear attack on the UK and Ireland as "shocking" and "unacceptable".
The Green Party leader said Irish diplomats in Moscow would respond, but also expressed concern that May 9th, the anniversary of the end of World War 2, could lead to a “step-up” in “warmongering” by Russia.
The broadcast showed mocked-up clips of nuclear weapons destroying Ireland and Britain in response to the UK’s support of Ukraine.
The clips were aired by the state-owned television channel Russia-1 and introduced by Dmitry Kiselyov, a close associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Mr Ryan added that further sanctions against Russia are likely to be agreed by the EU later this week.
The exact nature of the sanctions have yet to be agreed, he told Newstalk Breakfast, but he acknowledged that sanctions were more difficult for some countries, such as Germany and Poland, because of their reliance on Russian oil to keep their economies running.
Mr Putin was using energy as a weapon, Mr Ryan said. “He is looking to divide and conquer.”
There would be a doubling down on efforts to switch reliance on oil and gas and cooperation on switching to renewables so countries did not rely on Russia, he said, however, he added that some countries, such as Hungary, were very dependent on Russian crude oil and were in difficult circumstances.
There would have to be measures to transfer and share oil in some cases, he said. “We have to ensure that sanctions don’t damage Europe more than Russia.”
Mr Ryan was hopeful that a Europe-wide recession could be avoided, but “if the gas is switched off” some economies would suffer and Europe could enter into recession, he explained.
Building up alternative supplies would take time, he said, adding that Europe had to prepare for all eventualities.
While Ireland was not reliant on Russian oil or gas, an increase in prices would have an impact, Mr Ryan warned.
On the issue of turf restrictions, Mr Ryan said the changes would not have an impact this year as the traditional turf-cutting and harvesting would continue this summer, but action would have to be taken to protect lives impacted by air pollution, as well as those in danger of fuel poverty.
“We need to act to protect our people. The aim is to save lives and keep people warm,” the Minister said.
'Note in his pocket'
Also commenting on the Russian footage, Fianna Fáil European Parliament MEP Billy Kelleher said the Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov should be called in to meet the Government.
Mr Kelleher told RTÉ Radio's Today with Claire Byrne show that Mr Filatov should be sent back to Russia with "a note in his pocket" and "should be left in no doubt about our displeasure".
The television report should be taken seriously, Mr Kelleher warned.
Russia was using “bully-boy tactics” in a State sponsored television programme when they advocated the nuclear destruction of two islands off the coast of Europe, he said, adding that the tone of the programme spoke volumes about the attitude of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian generals.
“I don’t think the Government can sit on its hands when a programme on Russian TV is advocating the destruction of Ireland.”
Nuclear fallout “knows no borders,” he said, adding that this type of aggressive commentary should not go unchallenged.