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Ireland Will Stand With Ukraine for as Long as It Takes, Vows Leo Varadkar

The Taoiseach has vowed to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes after holding talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on a visit to Kyiv.

Leo Varadkar visited the sites of several atrocities committed in the early weeks of the Russian invasion, before meeting the Ukrainian leader in the capital.

At a press conference after an hour-long meeting with Mr Zelenskyy, Mr Varadkar insisted Ukraine would win the war.

“Perhaps Russia believes that it can break the resolve of the Ukrainian people, but I know from the way you fought for the past few years, and from my visit here, that it cannot,” he said.

“My visits to the sites of these atrocities this morning, and my meeting here in Kyiv, has confirmed to me that Russia will not succeed, and Russia cannot be allowed to succeed.

“This is the 21st century and the idea that national boundaries can be changed by violence, or the democratically elected governments can be overthrown by foreign invasion, must perish.

“We need to make sure that Ukraine succeeds, that it wins this war, so that no other country gets attacked.

“If Russia thinks that targeting civilians and essential infrastructure will discourage Ukraine’s friends, including Ireland, well, it’s wrong.

“Volodymyr Zelenskyy, we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. Ukraine will prevail and Ukraine will be rebuilt.”

Mr Varadkar also reiterated Ireland’s support for Ukraine’s accession to the EU and called for the process to start before the end of the year.

He also committed in taking a lead role to set up international tribunals to prosecute crimes committed in Ukraine and to assist in efforts to de-mine areas.

He made clear that while Ireland was militarily neutral it was not politically neutral, and announced an additional €5m in humanitarian funding to help respond to the attack on the Kakhoka dam and other areas.

The Taoiseach said €3m is to be spent in Ukraine by the Red Cross for its vital work, and €2m will go the UN fund.

Mr Zelenskyy thanked the people of Ireland for taking in tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees since the Russian invasion began.

“I, first of all, would like to extend words of gratitude to you and to the whole people of Ireland for hosting our nationals in Ireland. This is a significant moral support to our nation,” he said.

Mr Zelenskyy said it was a “fruitful” meeting where they spoke about the sanctions package against Russia, about how to stop Russia producing missiles and Ukraine’s accession to the EU.

He also informed Mr Varadkar about the recent Russian attacks on its port cities, including Odesa. He said Russia was targeting residential areas and food infrastructure, which was not only an attack on Ukraine, but on “global stability”.

“It’s important that every country of the world which is striving for peace, for normal life, on all continents, it’s important for them to condemn the Russian terror and participate in common efforts to overcome this aggression.

“Ireland is participating in such common efforts.”

Mr Zelenskyy also said he was “very grateful” that the Taoiseach began his visit in Kyiv’s suburbs, stating that he had “seen with your own eyes the consequences of the war, the consequences of Russia’s aggression”.

Mr Varadkar began an intensive schedule of engagements with a visit north of the city to the Kyiv Oblast region.

Before the meeting, Mr Varadkar paid a surprise visit to the site of the Bucha massacre in Ukraine.

He also visited  towns and villages around Kyiv to meet with communities and hear first-hand the accounts of the death and destruction wrought by Russian forces.

A Government spokesperson said the Taoiseach is meeting with Mr Zelenskyy, prime minister Denys Shmyhal and parliamentary speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk to “discuss the current situation, and how Ireland can continue to help Ukraine practically and politically”.

On Wednesday he laid wreaths in memory of the children killed in the conflict, in memory of those killed in the Euromaidan protests of 2014, and in the Russian invasion that followed.

The Taoiseach’s tour also took him through the village of Horenka, where he was taken to an apartment block that was heavily damaged in a Russian aerial bombardment.

The shelling blew a huge hole in the side of the building and the interiors of the apartments that were destroyed are clearly visible.

Among the debris was a painting of an old man enjoying a bath, representing the defiance of residents.

Horenka is where Irish-born cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski was killed in a Russian attack in March 2022.

Mr Zakrzewski, 55, who worked for Fox News, was killed alongside 24-year-old Ukrainian freelance journalist Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova.

He also visited a bridge in Irpin where Russian forces bombed civilians fleeing the conflict. The bridge was later blown up by Ukrainian troops in an effort to prevent Russian tanks entering Kyiv.

Prosecutor of Ukraine Andriy Kostin tweeted he was honoured by Mr Varadkar’s visit.

“Over 1,400 peaceful people were killed in the Bucha district, and many more were tortured. The pattern of these crimes indicates that the aggressor is targeting Ukrainian civilians because of their national identity and pro-Ukrainian views, a pattern also observed in other liberated cities.

“Ukraine has two main goals: to stop the war of aggression and to end Russia’s impunity for international crimes. The Kremlin regime is a global threat. Therefore, a concerted global effort is required to hold its leaders and their henchmen accountable for all their atrocities.”

Source : Irish Examiner