Irish helping Ukrainian soldiers to use anti-mining equipment, Taoiseach says as he pledges support

Leo Varadkar said that a clear message must be sent to the Kremlin that ‘Russia cannot win this war’

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called on European leaders to honour the commitments the bloc has made to Ukraine.

Speaking in advance of a conference organised by French President, Emmanuel Macron, at the Élysée Palace, Mr Varadkar said that a very clear message must be sent to the Kremlin that “Russia cannot win this war”, and that “no matter what else might change in other parts of the world, Europe and its allies would stand by Ukraine” and would continue to do so “for as long as it takes”.

At the weekend, Ukrainian defence minister Rustem Umerov said that 50 per cent of arms allocated from other countries does not arrive on time.

While no new announcements on military aid will be made at the summit, which is being attended by 21 heads of state or government, Leo Varadkar said that European leaders were meeting to discuss what needed to be done “in the coming months and years” to support Ukraine.


“That support will be non-lethal in our case,” he said, but pointed out that Kyiv also needed financial, humanitarian and political support. He said it was important to ensure that the EU pledge to provide 50 billion euro “that we agreed a few weeks ago starts flowing”.

“From an Irish point of view, in the last couple of weeks, anti-mining equipment or demining equipment has arrived in Ukraine, and we’re helping Ukrainian soldiers to learn how to use that. And we’re also seeing if there are other ways we can help, particularly around things like air defence”.

“I think the real challenge for Ukraine is that it’s so much smaller than Russia. Russia is a massive country, with a massive military presence and capability. So I think what Europe needs to do is to honour the commitment we’ve made to Ukraine already.

“For some countries, that’s going to be ammunition and weapons. For us it’s not, because of our neutral status. But there’s so much we can do around non-lethal weapons, around demining in particular, and also providing financial, political and humanitarian support and that’s very much Ireland’s place in all of this.”

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach ruled out any immediate increase in the bank levy, as called for by Sinn Féin after Bank of Ireland reported pretax profits of €1.94 billion for last year.

“We increased the bank levy in the last budget and it wouldn’t be right to reopen that budget now,” he said. “But it’s something we can certainly look at in October.”

Speaking in Paris, Mr Varadkar said that the banks should, however, be doing more to reward and support their customers.

“One thing that is evident to me though from the very large profits that Bank of Ireland is now making is that that bank, and a lot of other banks, are now in a position to do more for their customers, whether it’s higher interest rates for people who are saving, whether it’s lower interest rates for people who are borrowing, or who have mortgages, or whether it’s more lending to small businesses.

“A bank that is generating large profits has a strong balance sheet and can do more for its customers.”

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