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Simon Coveney visits Bucha after discussing Ukraine's EU application 'in detail' in Kyiv

The Foreign Affairs Minister is to travel to areas directly affected by the Russian invasion.

LAST UPDATE | 14 Apr 2022

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN Affairs and for Defence Simon Coveney has held a press conference in Kyiv after meeting with his Ukrainian counterparts, and the town of Bucha.

The Minister said he was hoping to show people the town where images of dead citizens and mass graves shocked the world earlier this month.

“It’s a bit like what Sutton is to Dublin, or what Carrigaline is to Cork – a large town on the outskirts of a big city, completely destroyed,” Coveney told RTÉ’s News at One programme.

“”We are ensuring that there will be an international legal infrastructure that can fully investigate all of those crimes.”

Earlier today, Coveney met Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov in the country’s capital, and is to travel to areas directly affected by the Russian invasion.

Speaking to RTÉ, Coveney also said he and Kuleba discussed Ukraine’s accession to the EU “in detail” during the visit, as well as sanctions and the investigation of the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

“We’re going to release €1 million immediately to the chief prosecutor Karim Khan,” Coveney said. “But I’m committing another €2 million to the International Criminal Court for the work that they need to do in the coming months and potentially the coming years.”

When Coveney was asked at the Kyiv press conference about whether the EU would be making further military contributions considering the looming threat of a brutal attack planned for the east and south of Ukraine, he said:

“The Irish contribution focuses on non-lethal weapons. It’s still important military assistance in terms of body armor, medical supplies, fuel and other military equipment. It’s the areas where we have expertise.”

When asked on RTÉ radio whether he would describe what is happening in Ukraine as “genocide”, as Joe Biden has and as Emmanuel Macron has refrained from doing, Coveney said that international lawyers would determine that.

“Certainly what we’ve seen is the mass murder of citizens, there’s no doubt about that.”

The Department said that Coveney’s visit to Kyiv is the first by any foreign minister of a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council since the war began.

Coveney said that the visit came about after Kuleba invited Coveney to the Ukrainian capital, and that discussions have been taking place over the past 10 days to organise the trip.

“His discussions with the Ukrainian government will focus on how Ireland can continue to provide political, security and humanitarian support to Ukraine, assist Ukraine in its application for EU candidate status, take forward further EU sanctions on Russia and hold Russia to account for its brutal and unjustified invasion,” the Department said.

Ireland has provided €20 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees in neighbouring counties and €33 million in non-lethal assistance for the Ukrainian military through the European Peace Facility (out of a total of €1.5 billion).

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Kyiv last week, and the president of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola visited the previous week.

On Tuesday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that he had offered to visit Ukraine, but the Ukrainian government had told him his trip was not wanted.

Steinmeier, a former foreign minister, is facing criticism at home and abroad for his years-long detente policy towards Moscow, which he has since admitted was a mistake.

Speaking during a visit to Warsaw, Steinmeier said he had planned to travel to Kyiv with the presidents of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania yesterday “to send a strong signal of joint European solidarity with Ukraine”.

“I was prepared to do this, but apparently, and I must take note of this, this was not wanted in Kyiv,” he told reporters.

Russian flagship explosion

Russia’s Black Sea flagship involved in the naval assault on Ukraine has been “seriously damaged” by an explosion, state media has reported, as Moscow threatened to strike Kyiv’s command centres.

It was unclear what caused the explosion on the Moskva missile cruiser, with both sides giving conflicting reports.

Russia’s defence ministry was quoted as saying the damage was caused by ammunition detonating “as a result of a fire”, adding that the cause of the blaze was being investigated.

But a spokesman for the Odessa military administration, Sergey Bratchuk, said on Telegram that “according to available data, the cause of the ‘serious damage’ was ‘Neptune’ domestic cruise missiles”.

The Russian defense ministry said Moskva has not sunk, and that the ammunitions on board the cruiser have stopped exploding. 

With reporting from AFP.

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