Russia’s military advance into eastern Ukraine is a ‘bad sign for the whole democratic world’, according to Ukraine’s Ambassador to Ireland.
The US, EU and a range of other western governments have announced economic sanctions on Moscow and allies of the Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to the deployment.
The sanctions generally target Russian banks and elites, while Germany also halted the €10bn Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
They were announced after President Putin sent troops to Donetsk and Luhansk, two breakaway regions in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine.
Satellite images continue to show a build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border in western Russian and southern Belarus, with US President Joe Biden warning that the invasion of Ukraine is already underway.
The White House has also confirmed that a proposed summit between President Biden and President Putin will not now go ahead.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko her country stands ready to defend itself.
“On Monday, Putin sent a very clear message, I think, of his intensions,” she said.
“We stand ready for any further development of course and we are ready to defend our country.
“By the way, yesterday the Russian Parliament adopted the Russian Miliary use of Russian forces abroad, so it is a bad sign for us of course and not only for Ukraine but for the whole democratic world.”
She said the sanctions announced over the last 24 hours have “sent a clear message that Moscow aggression won’t go unanswered”.
“The harshest sanctions may be kept in reserve as a deterrent to even greater escalation,” she said.
“The world must respond with all its economic might to punish Russia for the crimes it has already committed or the crimes which Russia is planning to commit in the future.”
She said tougher sanctions will be needed if Russia escalates the situation further.
“The package of sanctions have to be more tough and western countries have to impose a tougher package of sanctions to hurt and to hit the Russian economy more,” she said.
Ambassador Gerasko said Ukraine remains “firmly committed to a diplomatic settlement and peaceful settlement” and will not be sending troops to fight in Donbas.
“We are not going to send any military troops to the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas to provoke any further offences or oppression,” she said.
Announcing the sanctions last night, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Russia was not respecting its international obligation and was violating core principles of international law.
President Biden said Moscow’s deployment of troops to eastern Ukraine marked the "beginning of an invasion".
The Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the sanctions were likely to cause further increases in fuel costs.
He said no new measures were planned to ease the fuel price inflation as such measures eventually become “self-defeating”.
You can listen back to Ambassador Gerasko here: