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Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, fired his ambassador to Germany, per week after the diplomat gave an interview wherein he defended the legacy of a World Warfare II nationalist chief who collaborated with the Nazis.

Andriy Melnyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to Berlin since 2014, was one of the vital acknowledged faces of the Ukrainian trigger in Germany, by no means shying away from leveling fierce criticism of what many noticed as Germany’s gradual response to the Russian invasion and infrequently upsetting the ire of the nation’s political elite.

However in an interview on the present Jung & Nai, which streamed on YouTube on June 29, Mr. Melnyk defended the reminiscence of Stepan Bandera, the chief of the far-right Group of Ukrainian Nationalists throughout World Warfare II. The nationalist group, which espoused fascist ideology, collaborated with German forces once they occupied Ukraine and a few of these forces assisted within the mass murders of Poles and Jews.

Mr. Bandera was in a roundabout way concerned within the killings, as a result of he was arrested in Ukraine in 1941 and positioned in “honorable internment” by the Nazis in a focus camp exterior Berlin for attempting to ascertain an impartial Ukraine. Assassinated by Soviet spies in Munich in 1959, Mr. Bandera continues to be revered by part of the Ukrainian inhabitants for his management of the nationalist trigger, significantly within the west, the place there are statues of Mr. Bandera and streets named after him.

However in Germany, which prides itself on its dedication to acknowledging Nazi crimes and commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, questioning that chapter in historical past is a pink line.

Mr. Melnyk already raised eyebrows in Germany a number of years earlier for visiting Mr. Bandera’s grave in Munich. When confronted within the June 29 interview concerning the historical past of the OUN’s position in massacres, and Mr. Bandera’s anti-Semitic views, Mr. Melnyk mentioned there was no proof for the claims, that are undisputed in educational circles.

“That’s the narrative that the Russians are pushing to at the present time, and that has assist in Germany, in Poland, and likewise in Israel,” he mentioned.

Mr. Melnyk’s feedback instantly stirred condemnation from German officers, in addition to from Israel’s embassy in Germany. Two ministers in Poland, certainly one of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters because the Russian invasion, additionally condemned the statements. That prompted Kyiv to distance itself from Mr. Melnyk, saying his views didn’t signify Ukraine’s place.

A fluent German speaker, Mr. Melnyk was identified in Germany for his passionate advocacy for extra weapons for Ukraine to defend itself in opposition to the Russian invasion. He didn’t draw back from colourful criticism, reminiscent of calling Chancellor Olaf Scholz an “insulted liverwurst” for delaying a go to to Kyiv within the spring. The German expression, which loosely interprets into being a prima donna, outraged a lot of Germany’s political institution. However it received him avid supporters in Germany amongst these pissed off with their nation’s sluggish assist.

Regardless of the frequent controversies stirred by Mr. Melnyk’s feedback, he had been seen as an asset to lift consideration to Ukraine in a rustic the place pacifist leanings throughout the political institution have led to hesitancy in supplying weapons.

Mr. Zelensky introduced Mr. Melnyk’s dismissal together with that of the ambassadors of India, the Czech Republic, Norway and Hungary. Mr. Zelensky later referred to as the change a rotation that’s a part of regular diplomatic follow.

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