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Ukrainian refugees should consider going home to aid war effort, says Kyiv’s top diplomat

Sweden poised to end ‘200 years of neutrality’ after Hungary finally approves Nato bid

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has urged compatriots abroad to think about going home to help the war effort, as Kyiv seeks to draft fresh troops into its army and strengthen an economy ravaged by two years of all-out war with Russia.

“We respect the individual choice of every person, but we also encourage all Ukrainians who have left the country since the beginning of the full-scale invasion to consider the option of returning home,” he said in an interview with The Irish Times.

“We understand that some people might not have such a choice because of health or other private issues. But those who have a choice are welcome to come back and help Ukraine fight and survive with their direct personal contribution.”

Mr Kuleba thanked Ireland for giving refuge to more than 100,000 Ukrainians and said his country would “always remember this overwhelming Irish solidarity”.


“We are also extremely grateful for all the political, humanitarian, and other types of support provided by the Irish Government to Ukraine,” he said.

Kyiv is working on a new mobilisation law to potentially make hundreds of thousands more Ukrainians eligible for conscription into its army, amid heavy attacks from Russia and doubt over whether US Republicans in Congress will agree to send more military aid.

Ukraine said on Monday that its troops had withdrawn from the village of Lastochkyne outside the eastern town of Avdiivka, which Russia occupied 10 days ago, and were on the defensive near the rail hub of Kupiansk in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

Mr Kuleba warned that Kyiv was “facing acute shortages of artillery ammunition” and said “every round… produced in Europe must serve the purpose of defending Europe” by being sent to Ukraine.

“It’s up to every nation to decide what serves its security interests best. Personally, I think that the era of neutrality is over, as well as the era of peace in Europe,” he said.

“This sad reality is the result of a new revanchist and imperial force in the east of our continent, that is [Vladimir] Putin’s dictatorship. Needless to say, Moscow’s imperial appetites are not limited to Ukraine. And the best way to ensure Europe’s long-term security right now is to provide Ukrainian soldiers with everything they need to prevail and stop Russia on Ukrainian soil.”

French president Emmanuel Macron gathered more than 20 European leaders, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, in Paris to reaffirm support for Ukraine and condemnation of the Kremlin.

“We have seen a hardening of Russia, especially these past few months,” Mr Macron said in reference to the death in jail of leading Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Mr Navalny’s aides claimed on Monday that Mr Putin had him killed to prevent him being exchanged for a Russian security service assassin who is in a German prison. The Kremlin says the opposition leader died of natural causes.

Hungary removed the last obstacle to Sweden’s accession to Nato when its parliament approved the move on Monday.

“Today is a historic day... Sweden is leaving 200 years of neutrality and military non-alignment behind,” said its prime minister, Ulf Kristersson. Sweden’s membership of the US-led military alliance could be formalied as soon as Friday.

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Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe