Ukraine invasion: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern turned down meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over scheduling issues

Acting Prime Minister Grant Robertson has revealed Jacinda Ardern turned down a meeting with Ukraine's President on Monday. 

Ardern is about to arrive in Madrid, Spain where she will attend the NATO leaders' summit on Tuesday. 

Robertson, who is standing in for Ardern while she's abroad, revealed on Monday the Prime Minister was invited to Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy - but was forced to turn down the offer because of scheduling challenges. 

"I understand that there was an invitation but it came quite late in the day and, unfortunately, the Prime Minister's programme in Europe and indeed in Australia, where she's leading a trade mission, was already set," he told AM on Monday. 

Robertson said while Ardern won't be heading to Ukraine, she will talk to Zelenskyy over the phone.

"I know she's going to be attempting to speak to President Zelenskyy directly to continue to show New Zealand's support for the people of Ukraine but, unfortunately, that timing didn't quite work out."

When asked whether Ardern would be open to an in-person meeting in the future, Robertson said yes. 

"I'm sure if the opportunity arose and it could be worked out that would be something that she would look at. But from New Zealand's perspective, we have been supporting the people of Ukraine through humanitarian support, the logistics, the intelligence, we've had our army and other intelligence people up there. 

"We are continuing to provide all the support we can so those conversations with the President will be ones I know the Prime Minister will look forward to whether they're in person or through other means," Robertson said. 

Zelenskyy will also be attending the NATO summit but he will do so virtually. It's the first stop on the Prime Minister's Europe visit which focuses on a free trade deal between Aotearoa and the EU.

Zelenskyy's invitation comes after Russia bombed an apartment block and kindergarten in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv overnight.