‘We have to stop them’: Ukrainian ambassador calls for unity on anniversary of war’s start

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald says expelling Russian ambassador must ‘be on the table’ following death of Alexei Navalny

The Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko has said Ukrainian soldiers are fighting for Europe as they defend their country, calling for unity against Russia.

Speaking on the eve of the second anniversary of the invasion, Ms Larysa said those within Russia’s embassy in Dublin had no right to call themselves diplomats.

“Educated human beings, normal ones, cannot support these atrocities. They cannot justify this war,” she said at a protest outside the Russian embassy in Orwell Road.

Noting that February 23rd is celebrated as the day of the defenders of Russia, she described the Russian soldiers as “invaders not defenders”.


Ukrainian soldiers were not only fighting for their country, but for Europe. “If my country fails, the European Union will fight against Russian aggression. They want to move further. We have to stop them. We have to be united and we have to be strong.”

She described the Russian invaders of her country as “b*stards, rapists and killers”.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, who attended the protest, said the option of expelling the Russian ambassador Yury Filatov “has to be on the table” following the death in prison of Alexei Navalny.

“I want to be collegiate with Government about this. Vladimir Putin has broken every rule in the book. He has violated the law and has done so brazenly,” she said.

“I feel for the rule of international law and multilateralism generally. It is cause for reflection that Russia still maintain a very large embassy here. I know the Government called Mr Filatov in and spoke to him. The Irish Government needs more be more active on this.”

Demonstrations will take place across the country on Saturday to mark the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The main event will be the event at the GPO in Dublin at 11am which is expected to attract thousands of Ukrainians and their supporters. In Cork supporters of Ukraine will gather in the Grand Parade from 2.30pm.

The main gathering in Limerick will be at Arthur’s Quay Park from 11.30am, in Galway city crowds will gather outside the Cathedral from 12pm. Dozens of events are taking place in smaller towns and villages throughout Ireland.

The Ukraine Civil Society Forum, which consists of 92 organisations and national networks working with Ukrainian refugees in Ireland, has called for a path of residency beyond temporary protection for those living in Ireland.

The statement said 80 per cent of the 104,000 Ukrainians who have sought temporary protection in Ireland are still in the country, but they face an uncertain future. Their temporary status is due to end in March next year.

“This insecurity to peoples’ lives adds to their instability, not knowing for how long one can remain: living a life in limbo, raising your children alone, worrying about the fate of your parents and your future. These are real and pressing concerns of the many who have sought refuge here in Ireland and across Europe,” the forum stated.

The latest Department of Justice figures show a significant slowing down in the number of Ukrainians arriving into Ireland since the Government announced cuts in welfare provision from February 1st.

Since the start of the year 1,672 Ukrainian refugees arrived into Ireland first six weeks of the year. The numbers peaked at 628 in the week starting on January 22nd and fell to 168 in the next week and 143 in the week after that.

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Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times