Ukraine’s outspoken ambassador to Germany, a talk show regular who was pivotal to the public discussions that prompted Berlin to increase armament supply to Kyiv, is under fire for praising World War II Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera in an interview.
Andriy Melnyk is undoubtedly the most well-known ambassador in Berlin, known for fiery social media debates in which he labeled politicians and intellectuals who opposed aiding Ukraine in its battle against Russian invaders as appeasers.
However, an interview with journalist blogger Tilo Jung released on Thursday in which he stated that Bandera was not a “mass killer of Poles and Jews” sparked outrage and was condemned by both the Polish government and the Israeli embassy.
Despite spending much of WWII in a Nazi jail, Bandera led the extremist branch of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which slaughtered tens of thousands of Polish people.
After the war, he lived in exile in Munich as a leader of Ukraine’s anti-Soviet resistance, which battled Moscow in partisan acts throughout the 1950s. In 1959, he was killed by the Soviet KGB.
Even Ukraine’s foreign ministry condemned Melnyk’s statements, claiming they did not reflect its views. Zbigniew Rau, Poland’s Foreign Minister, praised his Ukrainian colleague for intervening over the “false claims.”
Melnyk, 46, has been a major player in arguments about Germany’s commitments to Ukraine, credited with utilizing his position as ambassador of a nation resisting foreign invasion to put pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has increased weaponry supply to Ukraine despite early hesitation.