The Taoiseach has criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “reckless and irresponsible” nuclear weapons threat.
Micheál Martin this afternoon said he doesn’t want to contemplate the use of nuclear weapons as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues.
President Putin yesterday ordered put the country’s nuclear deterrent forces on high alert, insisting the move was necessary in the face of “aggressive statements” from leaders of NATO countries.
The Kremlin has said the move was in response to the British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss comments that she supports British people choosing to travel and fight for Ukraine.
Micheál Martin says he doesn’t even want to contemplate what the EU & world response would be to Russia using nuclear weapons. Says it’s irresponsible and reckless talk from Vladimir Putin #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/uni7949EeC
— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) February 28, 2022
Mr Martin condemned the Russian threats and said the EU will strongly support Ukraine.
“I don’t even want to contemplate that,” he said.
“I think it is extremely reckless and irresponsible of Vladimir Putin to threaten that. It is not so long ago since all major nuclear powers committed to the non-utilisation of nuclear weapons.
“It would have catastrophic repercussions for the world if such a decision was taken.”
He was speaking as talks between Ukraine and Russia got underway near the Ukrainian border with Belarus.
The fighting has continued as talks are held, with Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior saying dozens of people have been killed in heavy shelling in the country’s second-largest city Kharkiv.
The United Nations said it believes there have been 102 civilian deaths since the invasion began five days ago – including seven children.
Mr Martin said he would like to see Ukraine granted membership of the EU through an accelerated process – and said Ireland would provide the country with whatever humanitarian supports it can.
“I think the most effective way to deal with that is through what we call the European Perspective – accelerating the process of gaining membership of the European Union,” he said.
Asked whether the country could be granted immediate membership, he said: “I don’t know whether it can be done immediately but I certainly would be a supporter of accelerating it and making it very clear they can become members of the EU.”
He said Ireland has not set any limits on the number of Ukrainian refuges it will accept, noting that countries like Poland and Hungary are likely to be on the front lines of the exodus.