Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was in Ukraine on Wednesday, July 19 for an unannounced visit "to discuss the current situation, and how Ireland can continue to help Ukraine practically and politically," according to a statement from the Department of the Taoiseach.
“This morning I came face to face with the horror inflicted by Russia’s forces on the people of Ukraine," Varadkar said in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, on Wednesday.
“I gave a commitment to President Zelenskyy, and to the people of Ukraine, that we will continue to offer our practical as well as our political backing.
“We are giving a further €5 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine - €3 million to be spent in Ukraine by the Red Cross for its vital work, and €2 million to the UN fund.
“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.
“I am meeting President Zelensky just one day after the EU-CELAC summit where there was strong support for Ukrainian independence, democracy, and territorial integrity. This is the 21st century, national borders cannot be changed through violence, and democratically elected Governments should not be overthrown by foreign invasion.
“We have to draw a line in the sand here and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
This is the 21st century, national borders cannot be changed through violence, and democratically elected Governments like #Ukraine should not be overthrown by foreign invasion. We have to draw a line in the sand here and stand with @ZelenskyyUa and Ukraine as long as it takes pic.twitter.com/2syUNYCGWO— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) July 19, 2023
In a tweet earlier on Wednesday welcoming Varadkar to Ukraine, Zelenskyy said "Although Ireland is a neutral country, this neutrality does not mean indifference, and this is very important."
Welcome to Ukraine, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar @LeoVaradkar. Today, we will hold important negotiations - security, political cooperation, justice for Ukraine and our economic cooperation.
Although Ireland is a neutral country, this neutrality does not mean indifference, and this is… pic.twitter.com/qzxvkXw7uV— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) July 19, 2023
After meeting, the two leaders spoke with the media in a joint press conference where Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to all the people of Ireland for sheltering Ukrainians fleeing the war.
"This is a tangible step of moral support for our people," Zelenskyy said.
"Ireland has sheltered 86 thousand Ukrainians, provided them with housing, finance, access to education and medicine, and this is very important."
Zelenskyy also noted: "Ireland has already provided us with non-lethal assistance worth more than 170 million euros - thank you very much to Mr. Taoiseach - and has actively engaged in the demining process, which is also one of our priorities today."
Zelenskyy invited Varadkar "to join our efforts to prepare the Global Peace Summit."
Speaking to the media, Varadkar said: "Ukraine will win, Ukraine will recover and be rebuilt.
"We will provide practical and diplomatic assistance to Ukraine to realize its goals and implement the peace plan."
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Varadkar and his team visited Moshchun, Bucha, Romanivskyi Bridge in Kyiv region and "had seen the consequences of Russian aggression with their own eyes," according to a statement from the office of the President of Ukraine.
Today in #Ukraine I came face to face with the horror inflicted by Russia’s forces. I gave a commitment to @ZelenskyyUa, and to the people of Ukraine, that we will continue to offer our practical as well as our political backing pic.twitter.com/a7b6ce6C8v— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) July 19, 2023
A statement from the Department of the Taoiseach said that later on Wednesday, Varadkar "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."
While in Kyiv, Varadkar will also visit the Lesya Ukrainka Theatre and meet with cast members of the production of Brian Friel’s "Translations," who recently performed the work in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
The Taoiseach will also meet with Irish people and businesses working in Ukraine.