Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, fired his ambassador to Germany a week after the ambassador gave an interview in which he invoked the nationalist leader’s legacy of World War II collaboration with the Nazis.
Andriy Melnyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to Berlin since 2014, is one of the most recognized faces of the Ukrainian cause in Germany, never backing down from his harsh criticism of what many saw as Germany’s slow and often angry response to the Russian invasion. The country’s political elite.
But in an interview on Jung & Nai, streamed on YouTube on June 29, Mr. Melnyk defended the memory of Stepan Bandera, the leader of the far-right organization of Ukrainian nationalists during World War II. A nationalist group espousing fascist ideology, it collaborated with German forces during their occupation of Ukraine and assisted some of those forces in mass murders of Poles and Jews.
Mr. Bandera was not directly involved in the murders, as he was arrested in Ukraine in 1941 and placed under “guard of honor” by the Nazis in a concentration camp outside Berlin for attempting to establish an independent Ukraine. Mr. was assassinated by Soviet spies in Munich in 1959. Bandera, Mr. Bandera is still revered for presiding over statues and streets named after him.
But in Germany, proud of its commitment to confessing Nazi crimes and remembering the victims of the Holocaust, questioning that chapter in history is a red line.
Mr. in Munich. For visiting Bandera’s grave Mr. Melnik raised eyebrows in Germany years ago. A history of the OUN’s role in the massacres and Mr. When confronted in a June 29 interview about Bandera’s anti-Semitic comments, Mr. Melnick said.
“This is the story the Russians are putting forward to this day, with support in Germany, Poland and Israel,” he said.
Mr. Melnyk’s comments immediately prompted condemnation from German officials and Israel’s embassy in Germany. Both ministers in Poland, one of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters after the Russian invasion, denied the reports. This is Mr. Kiev. Melnyk was prompted to distance himself, saying his comments did not represent Ukraine’s position.
A fluent German speaker, Mr. Melnyk was known in Germany for ardently advocating more arms for Ukraine to defend itself against a Russian invasion. He has not shied away from colorful criticism, such as calling Chancellor Olaf Scholes a “disgraced liverwurst” for delaying a visit to Kyiv in the spring. The German expression, which loosely translates as prima donna, outraged much of Germany’s political establishment. But it won ardent supporters in Germany among those frustrated by their country’s lackluster support.
Mr. Although Melnyk’s comments have often sparked controversy, he has been seen as an asset in raising Ukraine’s attention in a country where pacifist leanings within the political establishment have led to reluctance to deliver weapons.
Mr. Mr. Zelenskiy along with Ambassadors of India, Czech Republic, Norway and Hungary. Melnyk announced his dismissal. Mr. Zelensky later called this change a cycle, part of routine diplomatic practice.