Wexford photographer Bradley Stafford found out that the Irish Government wanted him to leave Ukraine "immediately" when his sister called him out of the blue.

"She said 'have you heard the news?' and at that point I hadn't, I was out having a meal with my wife."

"I checked my email and a mail had come in from the embassy."

The mail advised all Irish citizens to leave Ukraine as soon as possible, by any means necessary.

Bradley is married to a Ukrainian woman, Anastasiia, and they live in the capital Kyiv, but last week they moved about 300km further west to stay with his mother-in-law's family, which is closer to the Polish border.

He told RTÉ's This Week programme that they "took the decision to leave about a week ago because my wife was getting very worried about reports she was reading in the news about potential conflict in the Kyiv area, which had been almost unimaginable up to recently".

The mood among his friends in Ukraine has changed. "It has kicked up a notch, people are a lot more worried," he said.

"A lot of Ukrainians are used to the fact that the war in the east has become a part of daily life, but the threat is being discussed a lot more amongst people, and people are getting worried and putting plans in place if the unthinkable happens."

The Ukrainian capital Kyiv is home to almost three million people

Bradley has no plans to leave Ukraine.

"This is my home, this is my wife's home, she has her grandparents here, who wouldn't be in any state to leave.

"Now if it were to, God forbid, kick off, then we would have to reassess our options."

He admitted that it would be "next to impossible" to leave by air if there is an invasion and he also said it could be difficult to cross over the Polish border if the numbers of people increase.

'This is my home'

Another Irish man, Paul Niland, runs a national suicide prevention organisation in Kyiv. He is also going to stay in the country.

"This is my home, I'm staying here, my life is here, this has been my home for 19 years and I have things to do here, but I understand why people would make plans to leave.

"I'm concerned about the threat to the east of the country, because that is where Russia already occupies a part of the region. I don't believe there is a significant threat to the capital Kyiv simply because there are three million people resident here in Kyiv.

"There is no way that the Russian military could either occupy this place, or dream of holding it. The resistance from the civilians here would just be enormous and they just would not be able to hold on to this place," he said.