Russia's Ambassador to Ireland Yuri Filatov has denied his country is planning an invasion of Ukraine, which he called "insane."
"We don’t have any political, military, economic or whatever other reason to do that," Filatov said. "The whole idea is insane."
Yesterday Russia began withdrawing some of its forces from near its border with Ukraine, which Filatov pointed to as an indication that no invasion was being prepared.
"Within maybe 3-4 weeks, the configuration of the forces in the western region of Russia will resume its normal standard posture," he said.
However, Filatov refused to rule out a return of troops to the border in the future.
"If there is a necessity to conduct exercises, they will," he said. "And nobody will teach us what to do or not to do on our own territory, let’s not forget that."
Filatov said it was "nobody’s business at all" how Russia deployed its forces within its own border.
Filatov claimed western leaders were suffering from "collective insanity" in their belief that Russia would invade Ukraine and blamed the US for stirring up tensions.
Minister for Foreign Affairs said his government's advice for Irish citizens to leave Ukraine and avoid travelling to the country remains in place.
"While recent reports of a move towards de-escalation on the ground – if confirmed – are welcome, it is urgent that Russia de-escalate, abide by international law and engage constructively in dialogue," he said. "My department’s advice in respect of Ukraine remains not to travel. I encourage any Irish citizen in Ukraine who has not already done so to register with the Embassy. Citizens currently in the country should leave now using available commercial options."