TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has committed €5 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine following a meeting with President Zelenskiy in Kyiv.
Some €2million of that money will be allocated to the United Nations Humanitarian Fund, the Irish government has confirmed, with the remaining €3million to be spent in Ukraine by the Red Cross.
The Taoiseach was in Ukraine yesterday to meet with President Zelenskiy and to “pledge solidarity with the people of Ukraine and bear witness to the effects of Russia’s invasion at first hand” his department confirmed.
The first part of his visit saw Mr Varadkar visit towns and villages around Kyiv to meet with communities and hear their accounts of destruction brought upon them by Russian forces.
Later he met with Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy, Prime Minister Shmyhal and Parliamentary Speaker Stefanchuk to discuss the current situation, and “how Ireland can continue to help Ukraine practically and politically”.
“I came face to face with the horror inflicted by Russia’s forces on the people of Ukraine,” he said of his visit.
“I gave a commitment to President Zelenskiy, and to the people of Ukraine, that we will continue to offer our practical as well as our political backing,” he added.
“I am here to express Ireland’s solidarity with the Government and the people of Ukraine as they endure more than 500 days of Russian attacks.
“Ireland’s commitment to Ukraine means that we will support them on their pathway to EU membership.
“We will work with international partners to ensure that those responsible for this crime of aggression are held accountable, and we will work with Ukraine to restore essential civilian infrastructure to meet their needs today and in the future when they have prevailed.”
Following his meeting with the nation’s political leaders, Mr Varadkar laid wreaths in memory of the Ukrainian children killed in the conflict, as well as those killed in the Euromaidan protests of 2014, and in the Russian invasion that followed.
While in Kyiv, he also visited the Lesya Ukrainka Theatre, where he met with cast members of a production of Brian Friel’s Translations, who recently performed the work in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
During his time in Ukraine, the Taoiseach called for a “line to be drawn” over the ongoing Russian conflict
“This is the 21st century, national borders cannot be changed through violence, and democratically elected Governments should not be overthrown by foreign invasion,” he said.
“We have to draw a line in the sand here and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Presdient Zelenskiy took to twitter following the Taoiseach’s visit, where he thanked Ireland for its support.
“Although Ireland is a neutral country, this neutrality does not mean indifference, and this is very important,” he said.
“Thank you for all your support.”