By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA
Taoiseach Micheál Martin is due to travel to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Wednesday for a number of engagements in the city.
The trip comes two weeks after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy invited Mr Martin to visit Ukraine, which would be the first visit by a Taoiseach to the eastern European country.
It also comes after Russian president Vladimir Putin on Monday declared victory in seizing the eastern Ukrainian province of Luhansk, with his troops escalating their offensive in neighbouring Donetsk.
Mr Martin has warned previously that the Russian president appeared to be leveraging its natural gas supplies to exert maximum pressure on Europe ahead of the winter period.
Mr Martin has also been a vocal advocate for Ukraine’s fast-tracked membership of the EU.
“Ireland is ready to walk every step of that journey with Ukraine, providing whatever support and encouragement we can along the way,” the Taoiseach has previously said.
Mr Zelenskiy has thanked Ireland for its “active support of Ukraine’s European aspirations”.
Ireland has also taken in more than 36,000 Ukrainian refugees since Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine at the end of February.
The State has given €20 million in humanitarian support and assistance to the country, as well as health equipment and medical donations worth over €4.5 million.
In April, Simon Coveney became the first foreign minister of the UN Security Council to visit Kyiv, and met with Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and defence minister Oleksii Reznikov.
Mr Coveney also visited the town of Bucha on the outskirts of the capital, where suspected killings of civilians prompted global condemnation.