Address by Tánaiste, Micheál Martin TD, on Anniversary of Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Speech24 February 2023
Ambassador Gerasko, I am honoured to be here with you today.
In this iconic location 107 years ago, our republic was proclaimed.
Last December we marked 100 years since we began our journey as an independent, sovereign nation.
One of the guiding principles since our independence has been our belief in multilateralism, in the rule of law, in the principle of the sovereign equality of states and of friendly relations between nations.
One year ago today, the people of Ukraine were awakened in their sleep by a full-scale invasion by Russia.
The invasion was unprovoked, unlawful and unjustifiable.
For the last 365 days, Ukraine has fought day and night to protect itself and defend its people.
In so doing, it has been exercising its inherent and solemn right of self-defence against Russian aggression in accordance with international law and the UN Charter.
Ukraine has been subjected to a brutal and reckless campaign of violence, the likes of which has not darkened our shared continent in decades.
Russia’s invasion of a sovereign independent state is an affront to humanity and is being conducted with flagrant disregard for international law.
The illegal and immoral actions carried out daily by the forces of the Russian Federation on the sovereign territory of Ukraine are the actions of a rogue state.
Ireland is a militarily neutral country.
But we are not politically or morally neutral in the face of violations of international law and war crimes. Quite the opposite. Our position is informed by the principles that drive our foreign policy – support for international human rights, for humanitarian law and for a rules-based international order.
The right of all countries to choose their own path.
We are not neutral when Russia disregards all of these principles.
No, we stand with Ukraine.
That is why we are committed to promoting accountability for violations of international law arising out of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
As the first permanent international court with the power to prosecute atrocity crimes, the International Criminal Court plays a crucial role in fighting impunity for the sort of war crimes which have occurred, and continue to occur, in Ukraine.
Ireland has demonstrated our commitment to Justice by filing what is called a Declaration of Intervention in the case brought by Ukraine against Russia under the Genocide Convention at the International Court of Justice.
We are also one of a number of states that have applied to the European Court of Human Rights for leave to intervene as a third party in proceedings arising from the invasion of Ukraine.
And we support the establishment of an International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression in Ukraine in The Hague, which will be another important step in advancing accountability for what Russia is doing in Ukraine.
In July, I had the honour to make the first visit by an Irish head of Government to Ukraine and meet with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv; a vibrant and ancient city with roots extending back longer than any city in Ireland.
A city that was being pummelled mercilessly, but which continued to stand strong.
I travelled to Bucha and heard first-hand accounts from civilians of the brutality and violence visited upon men, women and children by occupying Russian forces.
And where Russia’s forces have been pushed back, we have seen the wanton destruction, and the uncovering of mass civilian graves.
The people of Ukraine are enduring wide-scale and systematic damage and destruction of infrastructure critical to the survival of the civilian population.
This is not so-called “collateral damage”. These tactics are designed explicitly and specifically to create terror among the women and children who remain.
And yet, the will and determination of the people of Ukraine remains unbowed and unbroken.
To those who have arrived here from Ukraine, I hope that you have found in Ireland safe harbour and friendship for as long as you need.
Most of you, I know, look forward to the day when you can return to a peaceful and free Ukraine, to the family and friends you have left behind.
That day will come.
In the meantime, our home is your home.
Ukraine is part of our shared European family. As Ireland celebrates 50 years since we joined the European Union, we know that EU membership is transformative.
Ukraine made the choice to submit a formal application for EU membership even in the dark hours of an invasion.
As Taoiseach, I argued strongly for Ukraine to be granted EU candidate status. As Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, I will continue to advocate strongly on your behalf.
Your cause is just.
Ireland will be with you every step of the way to EU membership, and you can always count on our support.