Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence

Situation in Ukraine: Engagement with Ukrainian Committee on Foreign Affairs and Inter-Parliamentary Co-operation

Photo of Gerard CraughwellGerard Craughwell (Independent)
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I thank Mr. Merezhko for taking the time to come and talk to us today. I am sure life in Ukraine is anything but pleasant at the moment. He made the point that Ukraine is fighting the war of the West. I sometimes wonder if Ukrainians feel they are left isolated with lots of promises that do not necessarily manifest themselves in hardware on the ground, for want of a better phrase. My colleague, Deputy Berry, spoke about weapons. It is a matter of some concern to me that we have weapons here that we could send to Ukraine, a fellow neutral country, if we want to claim the neutrality tag. Neutrality did not do much for the Ukrainians when Putin decided to attack.

I am wondering about a few things other than weapons that we might be able to send. Vehicles, for example, might be an option. I understand Ukraine is having difficulty in moving people around the place now so vehicles would be, I assume, important. I and my colleague, Deputy Barry, have often spoken about the fact that we have a number of naval ships that are about to decommissioned. We do not think they are necessarily suitable for the Black Sea but we believe they would be suitable for Ukrainian naval crews to maintain their skills and train on. We wonder if they would be of any value.

With infrastructure being destroyed throughout, in particular, eastern and southern Ukraine, how is Ukraine's stock of Bailey bridges and the like in order to replace bridges that have been taken out? Does Ukraine have Bailey bridges, or similar bridges that can be quickly erected, available?

I watched a piece on television in Ireland last night. The commentator, who was speaking on behalf of Ukraine, was a commander on the ground. He was explaining that many of his experienced soldiers, men and women, had been wounded or fatally wounded, and that he was now using what might be regarded as the second line reserve, who are not as professional as the soldiers he has had under his command for many years. Is Ukraine experiencing difficulty with respect to the loss of life of its best qualified? There were many questions there.