Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said he believes that an invasion of Ukraine can still be avoided.
War and an invasion were not inevitable, he told Newstalk Breakfast. Both could be avoided through “intense diplomacy.”
While the warnings from the UK and the US could not be ignored, it was important not to “over-heat” the situation, he said.
“There are real efforts to prevent a military invasion of Ukraine, and I think we should be doubling down on those efforts - rather than creating some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy here. I believe that, certainly from all the different sources that we’re speaking to, an invasion can still be avoided - and I think that should be the focus now.”
Should Russia invade Ukraine then any response from the EU would have to be “very significant” in the form of sanctions. That would mean significant economic impact on the EU as well “in terms of the potential impact on financial services, on energy prices, on the ability to travel and do business and trade.
“So nobody escapes here, which is why the last thing we want is to have to trigger a package of sanctions like that, and of course for Russia to respond in kind.”
The two diplomats at the Irish embassy in Kiev would remain there, added Mr Coveney. “Over the weekend I spoke at length to our ambassador there, she believes she should be staying, and I agree with her.
“Virtually every country is keeping at least a skeleton diplomatic staff in their embassy in Kiev, and we’re doing the same. We will keep a diplomatic presence there as long as it is safe”.
One of the reasons why Ukraine was complex from a consular perspective was the number of Irish families involved in surrogacy in the Ukraine, said Mr Coveney.
“We need to manage those cases as sensitively and as carefully as we can - and that’s one of the important roles of our diplomatic staff in Kiev at the moment”.
Later on RTÉ radio's Today with Claire Byrne show, surrogacy legal expert Annette Hickey called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to expedite the Emergency Travel Certificate system for couples arriving back into Ireland with a baby born through surrogacy in Ukraine.
At present the process can take up to four weeks, and it should be shortened in the circumstances, she urged. Whatever can be done to expedite the process should be done, she added. These were unprecedented times, there was no blueprint for what was happening. The Government should do whatever it could “to get these babies home.”
A number of Irish couples whose babies are due to be born in the coming days are already in Ukraine, while others will have to make a decision shortly as to whether they should travel to Ukraine despite the possibility of imminent war.
Approximately 14 babies are due to be born in Ukraine in the period to May by way of surrogate mothers acting for Irish couples.
The department has urged couples to get in contact with the clinics where the surrogate mothers are due to give birth so contingency measures can be put in place until such time as it is advisable for the couples to travel.
On the same programme, Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne urged any Irish in Ukraine to come home if they could. Exceptional efforts were being made to bring a diplomatic solution to the situation in Ukraine.