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98 Irish citizens registered with Ukraine embassy

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wo Irish diplomats will remain in Ukraine for the foreseeable future, amid ongoing tensions at the Russian border.

Russia has said it is returning more troops and weapons to bases, but Nato has said it sees no sign of a drawdown.

The Foreign Affairs Minister told a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party on Wednesday that 98 Irish citizens are currently registered with the Irish embassy in Kyiv.

Simon Coveney also told party colleagues that 33 Irish citizens have departed.

Mr Coveney said that two Irish diplomats in Ukraine will remain there to assist Irish nationals as long as it is safe.

Official Irish Government advice is to avoid non-essential travel to Ukraine, with Irish citizens in the country being told to leave by commercial means.

Russia has massed about 150,000 troops east, north and south of Ukraine, sparking Western concerns it was planning an attack.

Moscow denies it has any such plans and this week said it was pulling back some forces and weapons, though it gave few details.

Those claims have been met with scepticism from the US and its allies — even as they seemed to lower the temperature following weeks of escalating East-West tensions.

Mr Coveney told Fine Gael TDs and senators that there exists “significant consular challenges” being worked on, including surrogacy cases.

He also told colleagues that ahead of a meeting the UN Security Council, the focus of preventing Russian aggression in the region would continue and that he did not expect the story to “abate”.

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