Sacked ambassador fired by President Zelensky thanks Britain

Sacked ambassador fired by President Zelensky after criticising him for his ‘sarcasm’ thanks Britain for supporting Ukraine in its ‘darkest hour’

  • Vadym Prystaiko was fired as Ukraine’s ambassador representative in London 
  • The diplomat said he would ‘never tire’ of thanking the UK for support in Ukraine 

Ukraine’s sacked ambassador has voiced his gratitude to the UK following tensions with President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

Vadym Preystaiko said he would ‘never tire’ of repeating his thanks to the UK for helping Ukraine to ‘persevere in the darkest hour’.

The diplomat was fired as Ukraine’s representative in London after he appeared to publicly criticise President Zelensky over his ‘sarcasm’ in a weapons row.

In his departing message, Mr Prystaiko then also seemed to make light of Defence Secretary Ben Wallace’s comments about the desire to see ‘gratitude’ for the billions given in military aid. 

Confirming his ‘release’ as ambassador, Mr Prystaiko said in a statement: ‘I am deeply grateful for the unwavering support and solidarity demonstrated by the UK.

Vadym Prystaiko (pictured) was fired as Ukraine’s ambassador representative in London

READ MORE: President Zelensky fires Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK after he criticised his sarcastic response to Ben Wallace’s suggestion Kyiv should show more gratitude for weapons

Vadym Prystaiko (pictured) had criticised Zelensky’s sarcastic response to suggestions from Defence Secretary Ben Wallace that Ukraine should show more gratitude for arms supplies from its allies

‘I will never tire [of] repeating this again and again. Thank you! Together, we stood shoulder to shoulder, united in the fight for Ukraine’s sovereignty and our shared values.

‘The UK has been a leader in the coalition of Ukraine’s allies and partners. All of you, His Majesty’s Government, armed forces, all kind people.

‘You helped us to persevere in the darkest hour.’

Mr Prystaiko became a prominent figure in London amid the UK’s response to the war, often appearing on TV and radio to outline the latest views in Kyiv while also attending various official events in Downing Street and elsewhere linked to Ukraine’s war effort.

Only last week, he was spotted in the royal box at the Wimbledon tennis championships to watch Ukrainian player Elina Svitolina in the women’s singles semi-finals.

He said his ‘special gratitude’ went to those Britons who had ‘opened up their houses and hearts to Ukrainian families fleeing from the horrors of war’ as part of the Homes for Ukraine refugee scheme established by ministers.

‘We are in deep debt to you. I know how closely Ukrainians are taking this to their hearts. Thank you!’ he said in a statement posted on the Ukrainian embassy’s website.

Mr Prystaiko also said he was ‘blessed’ to have travelled around the UK and thanked the country for ‘being a part of this defining chapter in my and my nation’s life’.

Vadym Prystaiko was fired as Ukraine’s representative in London after he appeared to publicly criticise President Volodymyr Zelensky (pictured) over his ‘sarcasm’

A presidential order, signed by Mr Zelensky and published online on Friday, confirmed the dismissal of the Ukrainian diplomat from his posting in London.

The order did not say why Mr Prystaiko, in the job since July 2020, had been sacked.

The Defence Secretary, in comments made during the Nato summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, earlier this month, said that the UK and US were ‘not Amazon’ when it came to Kyiv’s requests for weapons and military equipment as he warned Ukraine it needed to keep doubters, especially those in Washington, on board.

Mr Zelensky responded by saying he thought the UK and Ukraine had ‘wonderful’ relations and appeared to joke about how Kyiv could further show its gratitude to Mr Wallace.

The war leader told a Nato press conference: ‘How else should we thank him? Well, let him write to me and tell me how I need to thank people so that we can be fully grateful.

‘We can also wake up in the morning and thank the minister personally.’

Mr Prystaiko appeared to publicly criticise Mr Zelensky’s choice of words.

Appearing on Sky News earlier this month, he said: ‘President Zelensky’s term, when he said each and every morning he’ll wake up and call Ben Wallace to thank him, I don’t believe this sarcasm is healthy.

‘We don’t have to show the Russians that we have something between us. They have to know we are working together.’

Before taking up the diplomatic role in London, Mr Prystaiko was Ukraine’s vice-prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration and is also a former foreign minister.

From London, Mr Prystaiko was in a key position to secure ongoing British backing for Kyiv, meeting with ministers, opposition party leaders and other influential figures as the war drags on.

The UK Government, despite the political turmoil of the last 12 months, has remained one of the most vocal advocates and allies of Kyiv – making the London posting a crucial diplomatic job.

The remarks by Mr Wallace caused a headache for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who distanced himself from the comments.

The Defence Secretary, who recently announced plans to resign at the next Cabinet reshuffle and stand down as an MP at the next election, has also claimed his remarks were ‘misrepresented’.

He said that he had been talking about how ‘Ukraine sometimes needs to realise that in many countries and in some parliaments there is not such strong support as in Great Britain’.

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