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Dublin: 9°C Wednesday 28 September 2022

Irish Government officials have ruled out an Afghan-style Ukrainian rescue mission

There are currently 70 Irish citizens in Ukraine.

Ukrainian soldiers stand guard as people try to leave at the Kyiv train station.
Ukrainian soldiers stand guard as people try to leave at the Kyiv train station.
Image: Emilio Morenatti

IRISH GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS have ruled out an Afghanistan-style rescue mission for Irish citizens and embassy staff in Kyiv.

Irish Army Ranger Wing troops and diplomats travelled to Afghanistan last year following the fall of Kabul to rescue Irish citizens from the city.

In the case of the Ukraine invasion, security and diplomatic sources have told The Journal that there is little prospect of aircraft reaching Kyiv. 

There are a total of 70 Irish citizens in Ukraine who have registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs. The Irish embassy in Kyiv is currently closed. 

Two Irish diplomats in Kyiv have been moved to a safe location along with EU colleagues. It’s understood that anyone leaving Ukraine will have to do so by road as the country’s airspace currently isn’t safe. 

In the case of the rescue of diplomats, it’s believed the plan is to meet them at the border and drive them across to, most likely, Poland or Romania. From there they would be evacuated home to Ireland or continue their work from their new location.

Diplomatic sources said that roads leading from Kyiv were “in total gridlock” and that the airspace is closed.

“It’s not good, it’s war,” they said. They added that this is an unprecedented situation to a degree, and government is waiting to see what Russia’s next move might be.

ukraine-tensions Traffic jam as people leave the city of Kyiv, Ukraine. Source: Emilio Morenatti

Security sources have said that it is anticipated that the Russian military invasion would focus on seizing all locations to the east of the Dnieper River which includes the city of Kyiv. 

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Russian paratroopers are engaged in battles with Ukrainian forces at an airbase a short distance from the capital.  

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said two Irish families are currently in Ukraine for surrogacy reasons, and the Department of Foreign Affairs is in contact with them to ensure their safe passage from the country.

Advice from the Department has been issued, with all Irish citizens in Ukraine being urged to shelter in a secure place.

However, the Department said: “Citizens should consider leaving Ukraine if they judge it safe to do so, depending on their location and prevailing circumstances.”

About the author:

Niall O'Connor & Christina Finn

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