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The Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland.
Ukraine fights on

'We're fighters like you': Ukraine's Ireland ambassador warns against war fatigue on anniversary

Larysa Gerasko asked the Irish people to keep assisting Ukraine, so it can win the war.

THE UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR to Ireland has asked for the support of the Irish people and Government to continue, as her country enters its third year of fighting back against Russian invasion. 

In the last week, Russia has made fresh gains, leading to renewed calls for foreign aid, and to Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s announcement that he will be focusing on arms supplies. 

The full scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia took place on 24 February 2022. Exhausted, weary, but determined, the Ukrainian military and public are now entering another year of battle. 

Larysa Gerasko, speaking to the The Journal today, said that she constantly reads news updates from back home, and often wakes up to fresh news of strikes, as Russia usually launches its offensives at night. 

Gerasko, who was already based in Ireland at the start of the invasion and in her current role, said: 

“I am very worried about my parents, relatives and friends, some of them are under occupation, you feel… I feel a little bit frustrated because yI cannot help them, because I’m far away.”

However, she went on to acknowledge that while the Ukrainian military is fighting Putin on the battlefield, she and other diplomats are fighting for international support, which her country needs to keep going. 

“Putin and his leaders don’t care about their own population, many of them are living in poverty. Russia has transferred its economy to a military basis, all of their funds are going towards weapons provision,” she said. 

She called for increased sanctions to clamp down on the Russian economy, and for an end to loopholes which are enabling trade with Russia to continue.

Gerasko said that further funding is needed from the EU, US and other international allies. 

Warning against war fatigue, in a message to the Irish public she said: “I understand the impact of war here, people are paying more for energy, at the same time, they aren’t paying with human lives.”

“In Ukraine, people are earning small salaries right now. Still, everyone, including pensioners, is donating something small whenever they can towards the war effort. 

“We ask you to please assist us, please help us to win,” Gerasko added. 

The ambassador said at this stage, there is no indication that Putin is ready to engage in peace talks. She explained that Ukraine needs support to keep fighting, because it cannot give away the currently occupied lands. 

She also pointed out that at least 20,000 Ukrainian children have been forcibly evacuated to Russia. 

“Imagine how these parents feel. This is a tragedy. We know this number is much bigger, Russia should be punished for this. They are war criminals,” she said.

Reflecting on Ireland’s history, Gerasko said that the Irish understand why Ukraine has to keep fighting. 

“You have fought. We know that from your history. You are brave strong people, so are we,” she said. 

Gerasko emphasised how grateful she is, and her country is, for Ireland’s support of Ukraine, and displaced Ukrainian people, since the start of the invasion.

She noted that in particular, the Irish Defence Forces providing specialist mechanical mine-clearing equipment and training to the Ukrainian armed forces has been extremely helpful.

In a speech made today, Volodymyr Zelensky vowed that Ukraine will defeat Russia. 

“We have been fighting for this for 730 days of our lives. We will win on the greatest day of our lives,” Zelensky told an open-air anniversary event in Kyiv.

“Any normal person wants the war to end. But none of us will allow Ukraine to end,” Zelensky said, stressing that the war must end “on our terms”, with a “just” peace,”he said. 

Zelensky spoke alongside the Canadian, Italian, and Belgium Prime Ministers  EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen who went to Kyiv to mark two years since Russia’s invasion.

Zelensky hugged the leaders and handed medals to soldiers at a ceremony at Kyiv’s Gostomel airport, targeted by Russia in the first days of its invasion.

“Two years ago, we met the enemy landing force here with fire; two years later, we meet our friends and partners here,” the president said.

- News Correspondent Niall O’Connor spoke with the Ukrainian ambassador today. 

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