The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising Irish citizens to leave Ukraine "immediately by commercial means".

Up until now, the Government had been advising against all non-essential travel to Ukraine, however that advice has now changed.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the department said it has upgraded travel advice for Irish people in Ukraine "following intensive consultations overnight and this morning with EU partners in Kyiv and Brussels, and with other partners".

"We advise against all travel to Ukraine and ask citizens currently in Ukraine to leave immediately by commercial means."

"Any Irish citizens requiring emergency consular assistance should contact the Department of Foreign Affairs at +353-1-4082000."

The Irish embassy in Kyiv will remain open "with a small number of essential staff remaining". However, the department said that situation will be kept under review.

The department has been in direct contact with all of those scheduled to travel to Ukraine for surrogacy parenting purposes in recent days.

Fourteen babies are due to be born by surrogate in Ukraine between now and May, according to Senator Mary Seery-Kearney.

The department said it will continue to provide support to each of these individuals and families with advice relevant to their particular situation.

"We remain in ongoing contact at senior level with EU partners, as well as the UK and the US, regarding the wider political and security situation in and around Ukraine," it added.

The US has warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could begin in days, with its State Department ordering non-emergency embassy staff in Kyiv to leave amid the rising tension.