Zelensky Fires Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UK

July 21, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday fired the country’s ambassador to the United Kingdom. 

Vadym Prystaiko had recently criticized the Ukrainian President’s response to a dispute over gratitude for military aid from Great Britain, calling Zelensky’s choice of words “unhealthy sarcasm.”

Earlier this month at the annual NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace said he had warned Ukraine that its allies were “not Amazon,” saying Kyiv needed to show gratitude for weapons given to Ukraine from Western countries to fight its war against Russia.

Wallace was responding to criticism from Zelenky over delays in the military alliance’s making NATO a member.

“How else can we show our gratitude?” Zelensky had retorted. “We can wake up in the morning and thank the minister. Let him write to me and tell me how to thank him.”

UK officials, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, have been pushing for Wallace to replace outgoing Jens Stoltenerg as NATO’s Secretary General.

Sunak himself had responded to the squabble between Wallace and Zelensky by stating he had been “struck” by how much Ukraine valued the UK’s help.

And later at the Summit, referring to a 3-point package to bring Ukraine “closer to NATO,” as well as a joint declaration from G-7 nations to support the embattled country, Zelensky said that the “outcome of the NATO summit in Vilnius is very much needed and a meaningful success for Ukraine.”

Last week, though, Prystaiko referred to Zelensky’s initial response to Wallace as a “little bit of sarcasm” that the ambassador believed was “unhealthy.”

“We’re not expecting anybody to fight for us, we only ask for equipment,” Prystaiko told Sky News in Britain, adding that “Ben can call me and tell me anything he wants.”

Kyiv has given no official reason for Prystaiko’s dismissal except to say that he was no longer ambassador to the UK, a position he’d held since 2020.

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