Ireland will expand the training it is currently providing to help Ukraine as it resists Russia’s invasion, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Micheál Martin has said on a visit to Kyiv.
Mr Martin spoke on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in the Ukrainian capital, the first such gathering to take place beyond the borders of the EU, intended to send a message of solidarity with Ukraine.
“We’ve engaged in a number of training [programmes]… in respect of medical combat, and in terms of de-mining training, and we have a number of other programmes identifying where our personnel will also provide training,” Mr Martin told reporters. “And that will expand.”
Training programmes that Ireland would take part in would involve medical combat, de-mining, basic drilling training and “more general programmes”, he continued.
Mr Martin said he was taking the opportunity while in the country to meet United Nations organisations and agencies and EU civil missions on the ground in Ukraine, noting that several Irish citizens worked in the agencies.
A recent further package of €23 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine has brought Ireland’s overall support package to €210 million, he said.
He described the meeting of foreign affairs ministers in Kyiv as “a very powerful symbol” of the EU’s commitment “making it clear to the Ukrainian people that we stand four square behind them”.
It comes after a weekend in which western support for Ukraine was dented by an election in neighbouring Slovakia that delivered the most votes to a Russia-leaning populist, and a decision in the United States to leave out aid for Ukraine in a deal to avoid a federal shutdown.
The EU ministers discussed proposals to make support for Ukraine more reliable and predictable, including financial support of up to €50 billion to help Ukraine meet its basic budgetary needs over the next five to 10 years, and the creation of a long-term €20 billion military support fund.
Ukraine also pushed for negotiations to begin on joining the EU before the end of the year.
“Ireland has been very supportive from the beginning of the Ukraine application to join the European Union. We support enlargement, and we’re looking forward to ongoing discussions,” Mr Martin said.
The issue of Ukraine’s potential accession to the EU is set to be further discussed when national leaders meet in the Spanish city of Granada later this week.