July 21 (UPI) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired Ukraine’s ambassador to Britain Friday after a row over Zelensky’s response to a claim by Britain’s defense minister that Ukraine was treating Britain and other countries supplying it with arms like an “Amazon” delivery service.
Zelensky made the announcement in a presidential decree on his official website — in Ukrainian only — that gives no detail on why Vadym Prystaiko, who was made ambassador in 2020, was let go apart from that he is also relieved from his post as permanent representative of Ukraine to the International Maritime Organization.
Prystaiko’s removal follows “very strong and harsh” phone calls with Kyiv after he accused Zelensky of “unhealthy sarcasm” in his response to British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace’s comments at last week’s Nato summit that Britain was “not Amazon” and that one way for Ukraine to get more weapons would be to show more gratitude, the Independent newspaper reported.
Zelensky had earlier rebuked Nato for not allowing Ukraine to join the 31-member country defensive alliance.
“How else can we show our gratitude?” Zelensky retorted. “We can wake up in the morning and thank the minister. Let him write to me and tell me how to thank him.”
In a move seen in Kyiv as gross insubordination that put splits within Ukraine on display to Russia, Prystaiko, told Britain’s Sky TV that kind of sarcasm was not “healthy.”
“I don’t think we need to show the Russians there is something between us,” he said. “We’re working together, Ben can call me and tell me anything he wants to.”
Wallace, who announced Sunday he’s quitting politics, was also said to be unhappy at an apparent lack of backing over the row from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who insisted Zelensky “had expressed his gratitude for what we’ve done on a number of occasions.”
“Not least in his incredibly moving address that he made to parliament earlier this year. People across Ukraine are also fighting for their lives and freedom every single day and they’re paying a terrible price for it so I completely understand Volodymyr’s desire to do everything he can to protect his people and to stop this war,” Sunak said.
Zelensky has a track record of firing diplomats. In July 2022, he sacked his ambassadors to Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway and India at a single sitting, saying the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shake-up would “further strengthen Ukraine’s relations with other nations.”