Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that Russia’s permanent place on the United Nations Security Council must be questioned because of its invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking to reporters in New York, Mr Martin called for reform of the Security Council at the highest level, saying Russia’s use of the veto is not acceptable.
“I believe it is called into question, most fundamentally. That a member of the Security Council with veto powers can wage such an unjust war, which is such a flagrant violation of the UN Charter, does call Russia’s membership of the Security Council into question,” he said.
He pointed to how a year ago, Ireland challenged the Council to take on its responsibilities to address the impact of climate change on international peace and security.
"113 countries — 113 of the Members of this Assembly — supported us in our efforts, he said. One country — Russia — vetoed these efforts,” he stated.
He said Ireland will have to assess the fleeing of Russia by thousands of young men and whether Ireland would accept such deserters as Germany has done.
He said Ireland has never refused people fleeing persecution.
“I think we'd have to assess all of that. I mean, in the first instance, we are accepting Ukrainian families who are fleeing war. That has been a priority for us, along with normal asylum-seeking applicants, which is way up this year,” he said.
That influx is putting a lot of pressure on the country, Mr Martin said, adding: "So we have to work within our capacities, to be frank."
"So for example, in Afghanistan, we would have facilitated a number of journalists and academics to leave Afghanistan because of the position they would have taken in respect of the Taliban.
"So we play a role internationally in terms of people of conscience, who have stood up to regimes. But clearly, there are a lot of challenges there,” he said.
Earlier, this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation in Russia — its first since the Second World War — and also warned the West that Russia would use all the means at its disposal to protect its territory, saying: “It’s not a bluff.”
It caused flights out of Russia to skyrocket in price and sell out in many cases. Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul in Turkey and Yerevan in Armenia, both destinations that allow Russians to enter without a visa, were sold out on Wednesday, according to Aviasales data.
Meanwhile, voting has begun in Russian-held regions of Ukraine in so-called referendums to become part of Russia as Ukrainian.
The Kremlin-orchestrated referendums, which have been widely denounced by Ukraine and the West as shams without any legal force, are seen as a step toward annexing the territories by Russia.
The vote asks residents if they want their regions to be part of Russia and are certain to go Moscow’s way. That would give Russia the pretext to claim that attempts by Ukrainian forces to regain control are attacks on Russia itself, dramatically escalating the war.