It is a rare diplomatic reaction: the Ukrainian foreign ministry reprimanded the country’s ambassador to Germany. Poland is outraged by him. And Melnyk himself?

Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, is under pressure after controversial statements about a former nationalist leader. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the statements about Stepan Bandera (1909-1959) Melnyk’s personal opinion, which does not reflect the official position. Poland criticized the statements as absolutely unacceptable. According to a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian embassy in Berlin, Melnyk himself did not want to comment.

In an interview with journalist Tilo Jung, Melnyk defended Bandera and said: “Bandera was not a mass murderer of Jews and Poles.” There is no evidence for that. According to Melnyk, the character Banderas was deliberately demonized by the Soviet Union. The ambassador accused German, Polish and Israeli historians of having played along. “I’m against blaming Bandera for all the crimes,” the diplomat said. “There is no evidence that Bandera troops murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews,” Melnyk said with conviction.

As ambassador, Melnyk reports to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. Melnyk is also known in Germany for his criticism of the federal government’s Ukraine policy.

Nationalist leader Stepan Bandera

Bandera (1909-1959) was the ideological leader of the radical wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Nationalist partisans from western Ukraine were responsible for ethnically motivated expulsions in 1943, in which tens of thousands of Polish civilians were murdered. Bandera fled to Germany after World War II, where he was murdered in 1959 by an agent of the Soviet secret service, the KGB.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said on its website on Friday night: “The opinion of the Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, which he expressed in an interview with a German journalist, is his personal and does not reflect the position of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry .»

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kyiv also thanked Warsaw for the current “unprecedented help” in the war against Russia. It literally says: “We are convinced that relations between Ukraine and Poland are currently at their peak.”

The Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz told the Internet platform Wirtualna Polska: “Such a view and such words are absolutely unacceptable.” When asked if Poland expected an apology from Melnyk, he said: “We are more interested in the position of the Ukrainian government than that of individuals.” Since the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has distanced itself from Melnyk’s statements, this is sufficient.

No comment from Melnyk

Melnyk did not want to comment on the foreign ministry’s distancing statement in Kyiv. This was announced by a spokeswoman for the embassy in Berlin at the request of the German Press Agency. The reason given was that an ambassador could not comment on the statements made by his own foreign ministry.

The Federal Government referred to the statement by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which had made it clear that this was the Ambassador’s personal opinion and not the official position of Ukraine. A spokesman for the Foreign Office in Berlin said that Melnyk’s statements were noted.