The Ukrainian president has criticised Ireland for not abandoning its policy of neutrality despite Russia’s brutal invasion of the country – while hitting out at Europe for being ‘too slow’ to impose sanctions that could have stopped Vladimir Putin at the border.
Addressing the European Council, Volodymyr Zelensky namechecked EU member states – noting in turn what he saw as the level of support the country had given Ukraine. ‘Ireland, well, almost,’ Mr Zelensky said, without adding further reasons for his comment.
While fully backing the Ukrainian push for EU membership, Ireland has not abandoned its position of military neutrality in the face of the Russian assault. EU leaders have so far resisted the call to accelerate the accession of Ukraine to the bloc.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin, speaking on the second day of the European Council meeting in Brussels, played down the comments, claiming the Ukrainian leader was talking in terms of the ‘European perspective’.
In his address, Zelensky scolded Europe for being too ‘late’ imposing sanctions on Russia, saying Vladimir Putin would ‘never’ have invaded if measures had been ‘preventative’. ‘You have imposed sanctions and we are grateful. These are strong steps,’ he said. ‘But it was a little late, because if it had been preventative, Russia would never have started a war.’
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