The invasion of Ukraine happened because of a failed policy of appeasement towards Russian president Vladimir Putin, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said, likening it to the events that led up to the second World War.
“Appeasement has failed,” Mr Varadkar told reporters on arrival to a European Council meeting of the 27 national leaders in Brussels.
“We know from our history from what happened in the 1930s and 1940s what happens if you continue with an appeasement policy that’s failing,” he said.
“People often ask the question: where will Putin stop? Putin will stop where we stop him.”
This means “supporting Ukraine in its fight”, Mr Varadkar continued, saying that while everyone wanted peace, this would not be possible until it is clear that Putin has failed in his military objectives in Ukraine.
The 27 leaders are expected to sign off on a deal to jointly procure ammunition for Kyiv as they meet on Thursday, and to discuss whether to increase by €3.5 billion the European Peace Facility (EPF) fund that reimburses member states that buy weapons for Ukraine.
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Due to Ireland’s neutrality policy it is not part of the ammunition deal and it does not supply lethal weaponry. But for every additional €1 billion added to the EPF, Ireland commits to sending €22 million’s worth of non-lethal supplies such as helmets and ammunition kits to Ukraine.
Mr Varadkar said Mr Putin had been emboldened by a muted international response to previous aggressions, including Russia’s continued occupation of large parts of Georgia since a 2008 war, its control of the breakaway Moldovan province of Transnistria, and the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
“He has been allowed to occupy part of Georgia, controls part of Moldova, seized Crimea. Appeasement was the response all along. And now, the price of that policy of appeasement is what’s being done to innocent people in Ukraine,” Mr Varadkar said.
“Everybody wants to see peace. Of course we do. But I don’t think peace is going to be possible until it’s very clear that Russia’s military objectives in Ukraine have failed.”