Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has invited Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to visit Ukraine “at a future opportunity”.

The offer was made in the first phone call between the two leaders since Mr Varadkar returned to the role in December as part of a coalition deal.

“Had the first phone call with prime minister of Ireland @LeoVaradkar,” Mr Zelenskiy said on Twitter.

“Thanked for freezing Russian assets, discussed support for Ukraine’s energy system and post-war recovery. Invited to join the implementation of the #PeaceFormula.”

Mr Zelenskiy also extended new year’s wishes to the people of Ireland during the call and thanked them for their friendship.

Mr Varadkar assured Mr Zelenskiy of Ireland’s ongoing solidarity, and said Ireland was “resolute” in backing Ukraine’s application for EU membership.

He said that the 70,000 Ukrainians that had sought refuge in Ireland were welcome and that the Irish people were responding to their difficult situation with great generosity.

The Taoiseach also said Ireland would continue to provide financial and other assistance to Ukraine.

“Ireland was very aware of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, and was pleased to help with equipment to repair its electricity grid, such as the large transformer sent from Ireland to Ukraine this month,” a readout said.

“President Zelenskiy highlighted his 10-point Peace Formula. The Taoiseach expressed his support for the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and for holding those responsible for the war to account.

“Mr Zelenskiy assured the Taoiseach that the people of Ukraine remained strong and were determined that Russia will not win its war of aggression. He also invited the Taoiseach to visit Ukraine at a future opportunity.”

Mr Zelenskiy also held a call with the president of the European Council Charles Michel.

“I informed him about the situation on the battlefield and Ukraine’s current needs in armaments. We agreed on joint efforts to implement the Peace Formula and discussed expectations from the upcoming EU/Ukraine Summit,” he said.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin visited Ukraine in July during his tenure as taoiseach. His trip included a visit to the site of a mass grave on church grounds in Bucha.

Mr Martin said he was impressed by the resilience of the Ukrainian people and described his visit to the war-torn country as “very emotional”.

In April, Mr Zelenskiy gave a historic address to the Oireachtas, in which he said Ireland had supported Ukraine from the start of the war and indicated his gratitude to Irish citizens for their support of sanctions against Russia.

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