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Russia crisis Irish citizens in Ukraine urged to 'leave immediately by commercial means' by DFA

Up until now the Government had been advising against all non-essential travel to Ukraine

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Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. File image.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. File image.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. File image.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is now urging Irish citizens to leave Ukraine "immediately by commercial means".

Up until now, the Government had been advising against all non-essential travel to Ukraine, despite fears that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is increasingly imminent.

However that advice changed this afternoon

A number of countries have already directed their citizens to leave the country as tensions continue to escalate between Ukraine and neighbouring Russia.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has warned that an attack, by the more than 100,000 Russian troops currently massed next to Ukraine, “could occur any day now” and Americans were urged to leave the country immediately.

In a statement this afternoon, the Department of Foreign Affairs said: “Following intensive consultations overnight and this morning with EU partners in Kyiv and Brussels, and with other partners, the Department of Foreign Affairs has upgraded travel advice for Ukraine.

“We advise against all travel to Ukraine and ask citizens currently in Ukraine to leave immediately by commercial means.

"Any Irish citizens requiring emergency consular assistance should contact the Department of Foreign Affairs at +353 1 4082000.

"The Irish embassy in Kyiv will remain open "with a small number of essential staff remaining". However, the Department said that situation will be kept under review.”

“The Department has been in direct contact with all of those scheduled to travel to Ukraine for surrogacy purposes in recent days.

"The Department will continue to provide support to each of these individuals and families with advice relevant to their particular situation.

“We remain in ongoing contact at senior level with EU partners, as well as the UK and the US, regarding the wider political and security situation in and around Ukraine."

Around 16 families have contacted Fine Gael senator Mary Seery-Kearney after she urged them to put plans in place “for whatever arises”.

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Ms Seery-Kearney, who told the Seanad fourteen babies are due to be born in Ukraine between now and May, said she has had a “lot of reaction”.

“We believed it was 14, but I’ve had more emails than that. It would suggest others are only becoming aware of their need to act now,” she told Independent.ie.

The US, meanwhile, earlier said it is to evacuate its embassy in Kyiv and had ordered virtually all American staff at the Kyiv embassy to leave ahead of a feared Russian invasion.

The department had already ordered families of U.S. embassy staffers in Kyiv to leave.

The UK Foreign Office also updated its advice yesterday evening and urged UK nationals to “leave now while commercial means are still available”.

On Friday evening, the Department of Foreign Affairs here, said it was in ongoing contact “at senior level” with EU, UK and US partners, regarding the political and security situation in Ukraine.

It said the Irish embassy in Kyiv is in constant co-ordination with partners on the ground in respect of consular and security contingency planning and that co-ordination will continue over the weekend.

It also said it is in ongoing direct contact with Irish families scheduled to travel to Ukraine for surrogacy purposes and will continue to provide advice and assistance.

“We are aware of the decision today by the US and UK to change their travel advice to their citizens currently in Ukraine and to advise them to leave.

“Ireland, along with other EU MS (member states), continues to advise against all non-essential travel to Ukraine and is asking all citizens in Ukraine to ensure that they are registered with our Embassy in Kyiv. Travel advice will be kept under constant review, in consultation with EU partners,” the department said in a statement.

"A small number of Embassies in Kyiv, including the UK, US, Canada, have drawn down non-essential personnel and family members of diplomatic staff only. Essential diplomatic and consular staff remain. There are no plans to withdraw staff from the Embassy of Ireland in Kyiv at this time.

"We continue to call on Russia to de-escalate, abide by international law and engage constructively in dialogue. Recent high-level discussions are welcome. These now need to translate into immediate, tangible actions and a commitment to dialogue,” the statement added.

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