Politics

Irish embassy in Kyiv should reopen as ‘gesture of solidarity’


The Government is being urged to follow other countries and reopen the embassy in Kyiv as a symbolic act of solidarity with Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s invasion.

The United States has become the latest country to announce that it will resume diplomatic operations in Ukraine this week, for the first time since the Russian attack began in February.

The proposed reopening of the US embassy joins similar moves by Spain, Italy, Slovenia and France. British prime minister Boris Johnson said last week the UK would reopen its embassy.

Irish diplomats left Ukraine following the start of the Russian invasion. The Kyiv embassy, which was officially opened last August, is being operated on a remote basis from Dublin.

Politicians have called on the Government to reopen the embassy as soon as it is safe to do so.

Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan, the former minister for foreign affairs, said reopening the embassy would “act as a gesture of solidarity with the beleaguered people of Kyiv and the wider Ukraine”.

Mr Flanagan, chairman of the Oireachtas foreign affairs and defence committee, said Ireland’s diplomatic mission should reopen “subject to safety and security advice”.

Brendan Howlin, Labour TD and the party’s foreign affairs spokesman, said that the pre-emptive closure of the US embassy in Kyiv prior to the war was a “bad move” and “almost a signal that defeat was expected” and that “the converse is also true” with its reopening.

“The notion that western countries would re-establish a visible foothold in Kyiv is an indication that not only do we stand in solidarity, but we have an expectation that Kyiv will remain the capital of an independent Ukraine,” he said.

Mr Howlin said the reopening of foreign embassies would send a message to Moscow that any expectation the Kremlin had of “extinguishing Ukraine is gone” and that its original military plan that it could overwhelm Ukraine has been proven “unachievable”.

“We have to do everything we can to show our support. Morale is an extraordinary part of any resistance, as many wars have proven,” he said.

“The notion that people have confidence enough to return is a signal that not only are we going to stand by it, but we believe in the future success of an independent Ukraine.”

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said the embassy continues to work remotely.

“We continue to review the situation and are conducting the necessary security and contingency planning in relation to possible re-entry of officers into the country,” he said.

Top US diplomat Antony Blinken said on a visit to Kyiv on Monday that the US would reopen its embassy in Ukraine soon, starting with sending US diplomats back to the western city of Lviv. The secretary of state said the US government will have diplomats back in the Ukrainian capital within weeks. He named Bridget Brink, the current US ambassador in Slovakia, as the new ambassador in Kyiv, filling a post that has been vacant for nearly three years.



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