Training to be provided by Irish soldiers to Ukrainian troops will be ‘non-lethal’ - Tánaiste

Cabinet signs off on plans to deploy up to 30 Army personnel to the EU’s Military Assistance Mission

Training to be offered by Irish soldiers to Ukrainian troops will be in “non-lethal” areas, Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said as he dismissed any suggestion it would undermine Irish military neutrality.

The Cabinet signed off on plans on Tuesday to deploy up to 30 Army personnel to the EU’s Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM). The mission will last two years.

It is expected that Irish soldiers could offer training in demining, combat medical activities, engineering and explosive ordnance disposal.

The training will be provided in the EU, primarily in Poland and Germany and it is not anticipated that any training will be provided in Ireland.


While approval was given for up to 30 Permanent Defence Force Personnel, there are likely to be periods when the number deployed is significantly lower than this.

The Government has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Ireland is not politically neutral in its stance on the war while maintaining a stance of military neutrality.

Asked if military neutrality is undermined by the deployment of soldiers to train Ukrainian forces, Mr Martin said Ukraine is “engaged in an act of self-defence”.

He added: “Ukraine didn’t invite this war.

“This war waged by [Vladimir] Putin and Russia on Ukraine is a violation of the UN Charter which enshrines the basic right of any nation to its territorial integrity.”

Mr Martin, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence added: “Our military neutrality is defined. We’re not members of Nato and we’re not members of an EU common defence pact ... That is the definition of our neutrality.”

He said Ireland has been involved in EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy missions for more than 20 years.

Mr Martin said that what is envisaged under the Government’s plans is “a very modest contribution to training Ukrainian Defence personnel”.

He said it would be in areas where Ireland could offer “added value” like demining and dealing with unexploded ordinances like cluster munitions “which can be very damaging to civilian populations in the aftermath of bombardments and attacks.”

Mr Martin said: “It’s non-lethal”.

He also highlighted how Ireland has contributed up to €77 million in “non-lethal support” for Ukraine under the European Peace Facility.

The Irish contribution is being used to fund the purchase of non-lethal military equipment for Ukrainian forces, including fuel, body armour and medical supplies.

Mr Martin said: “I think we do have to make a contribution to supporting the Ukrainian people to withstand the enormous bombardment that they are under ... this is a war on the people, on civilian infrastructure, power facilities.

“So I think it’s a very modest contribution of up to 30 personnel ... not all at one time.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times