Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed the country’s ambassador to the United Kingdom after he criticised the president’s response to a row over British military aid.
Vadym Prystaiko had criticised Zelensky’s sarcastic response to suggestions from Defence Secretary Ben Wallace that Ukraine should show more gratitude for arms supplies from its allies.
Zelensky signed a decree dismissing Prystaiko, published on the presidential website. It did not provide a reason.
The row began when Wallace told journalists at a NATO summit in Vilnius this month that Britain was not an Amazon delivery service for weapons to Ukraine and suggested Kyiv could express more ‘gratitude’.
The UK is the second largest donor of weapons to Ukraine, with the nation committing £4.6billion in military assistance to the country so far. British troops have also been training thousands of Ukrainian soldiers.
Vadym Prystaiko (pictured) had criticised Zelensky’s sarcastic response to suggestions from Defence Secretary Ben Wallace that Ukraine should show more gratitude for arms supplies from its allies
Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed the country’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Vadym Prystaiko, after he criticised the president’s response to a row over British military aid
The row began when Wallace (pictured on July 18) told journalists at a NATO summit in Vilnius this month that Britain was not an Amazon delivery service for weapons to Ukraine and suggested Kyiv could express more ‘gratitude’
Zelensky responded at a press conference at the summit, saying he did not know how else to make clear Ukraine’s gratitude, adding: ‘We could wake up in the morning and express our words of gratitude to the minister personally.’
The Ukrainian diplomat agreed with a suggestion from a Sky News interviewer that Zelensky responded with ‘a little bit of sarcasm’ to Wallace.
‘I don’t believe that this sarcasm is healthy. We don’t have to show the Russians that we have something between us, they have to know that we are working together,’ Prystaiko added, stressing the need to smooth over relations with the UK.
‘If anything happens, Ben can call me and tell me everything he wants,’ the diplomat said.
Prystaiko is a career diplomat who has served as ambassador to the United Kingdom since July 2020.
He became a prominent figure in London amid the UK’s response to the war, often appearing on TV and radio to outline the latest view in Kyiv while also attending various official events in Downing Street and elsewhere linked to Ukraine’s war effort.
Only last Thursday, he was in the royal box at the Wimbledon tennis championships.
Before taking up the diplomatic role in London, he was Ukraine’s vice-prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration and is also a former foreign minister.
The row began last week when Wallace said he had bluntly told told Kyiv officials ‘I’m not Amazon’ when he was presented with a ‘shopping list’ after an 11-hour drive to visit the war-torn capital.
Zelensky on Friday dismissed the country’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Vadym Prystaiko (pictured), after he criticised the president’s response to a row over UK military aid
He went on to suggest that Kyiv had not shown enough ‘gratitude’ for the materiel support it had received since the February 2022 invasion.
In surprisingly strong remarks at the event in Vilnius, Lithuania, Mr Wallace had told reporters: ‘There is a slight word of caution here which is that, whether we like it or not, people want to see gratitude.
‘My counsel to the Ukrainians… you’re persuading countries to give up their own stocks. And yes the war is a noble war and yes we see it as you doing a war for not just yourself but our freedoms.
‘But sometimes you’ve got to persuade lawmakers on the Hill in America. You’ve got to persuade doubting politicians in other countries that it’s worth it and it’s worthwhile and they’re getting something for it.’
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak publicly distanced himself from his senior minister’s complaint, saying Mr Zelensky had ‘expressed his gratitude for what we have done on a number of occasions’.
It came after the Ukrainian war leader had expressed his frustration at the reluctance of the 31 member states to agree a firm timetable for membership to NATO.
Wallace has since tried to clarify his warning to Ukraine against treating Nato as ‘Amazon’ for weapons and griped that his controversial remarks had been ‘misinterpreted’.
Instead, he insisted he was merely offering advice to Zelensky that to keep popular support in the West, the relationship had to be a ‘partnership’ rather than ‘transactional’.
This is a breaking news story, more to follow…