Is Ireland obliged to take single Ukrainian males of military age? 

The war in Ukraine has no doubt brought with it untold human suffering for those directly impacted by an unjustified invasion by Russia. In common with all wars, modern and ancient, the primary victims are those who are not directly part of the war as professional or conscript soldiers. 

The most visible aspect of that outside of Ukraine, including in Ireland, is the huge numbers of refugees, not seen since the 1940s, who have sought protection in other countries. It is fair to say that those refugees have received a welcome everywhere they have reached, even as the host communities strain under the pressures of accommodating such large numbers with all the consequences which that has for housing, health, social welfare, education, and so on.

It is also fair to say, however, that welcomes tend to have a best-by date, and certain unstated conditions. One of those conditions, is that hospitality is neither abused nor taken for granted. There has been evidence over the past week that growing numbers of people in Ireland may be starting to question whether that is being observed.

Certainly the widely reported comments of the Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko, have sparked some ire. There are disagreements – including among people who write for Gript – as to the how those comments ought to be interpreted, but at the very least they might be regarded as badly timed.

Some of the negative reaction fact that they coincided with media reports of a group of Ukrainian refugees who apparently could not find somewhere to sleep when they arrived at Dublin airport. 

Before expanding on that, another Ukrainian story struck me in recent days. It was of Mariana Triasko who was killed during fighting at Zaporizhzhia on September 24. She had returned to her homeland from Italy where she had lived for 14 years to resist the invasion and she was serving as a combat medic.

Why is that noteworthy in the current context? Well, for the reason is that to my mind – and perhaps I do not know all the facts – but the cases highlighted by the Ambassador and in the media as examples of poor Irish hospitality would appear to involved chaps who would appear to provide a rather stark contrast with Mariana Triasko.

Not only are they leaving a country to which she returned, under no obligation, to protect, but it would appear to me that several of them ought to be legally let alone morally obliged to do what she did and defend their own country. All of the persons for whom accommodation was not found are single males, and – from what we know – they are all of military age. 

The same descriptor applies to the person who it is claimed specifically organised their flight. He is named in reports as Sergey Chudaev and is described as a “comedy producer.” Perhaps that is an exempted profession in Ukraine?  Even granted that all of the single males who this chap flew to Dublin might have some reason not to serve in a military capacity, surely there is something that able bodied males might be able to do that might contribute to the defence of their own country?

There is an exception to the military draft for Ukrainian men if: they have 3 children under 18; they have 1 child under 18 and are a single dad; and if they have a disabled kid. We don’t know if this applies to any or all of the men now landing in Ireland. 

What obligation this country is supposed to have to people to whom these exemptions do not apply? Does it not also appear odd that the Ukrainian Ambassador ought to be going to bat for a plane load of single males who might surely have something found for them to do at home rather than take up resources that ought to be devoted to caring for more genuine cases? Does she even know in fact what reasons they have for being here at all?

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