'All Russians are enemies' – Ukrainian ambassador
Ukraine’s envoy to Berlin, Andrey Melnik, has sparked criticism after calling all Russians “enemies” in an interview on Wednesday with a German newspaper, and later doubling down on his words. His comments triggered accusations that the statement is “nothing short of fascism.”
“I will say it very clearly: Russia is an enemy state for us. And all Russians are enemies for Ukraine at the moment,” Melnik told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) in an interview published on Tuesday. He went on to say that it’s not his “concern” to “distinguish” between “good” Russians and bad ones.
The ambassador was responding to a question on why he snubbed a charity concert organized by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier that featured both Russian and Ukrainian musicians in late March. Melnik called the event a “provocation,” adding that he cannot imagine Russians and Ukrainians “celebrating together” and “enjoying culture” as long as war is raging in his homeland.
Known for his tough talk, Melnik also accused the Germans and their president of insensitivity, arguing that they simply “cannot understand” the nature of the predicament since they are not “on the receiving end” of the conflict.
The diplomat, who said he has never had any Russian friends and has “no illusions” about the future, added that “Ukraine has been, is, and likely will remain an enemy of Russian society for a long time to come,” while Russia will remain Ukraine’s enemy “even after the war.”
The interview drew a wave of criticism from readers. “With all due respect, Mr. Ambassador, that is a disgrace for a diplomat of your rank,” one person wrote. Another said, “according to the article, Mr. Melnik is a racist and must be barred [from speaking] on social networks and in the media.”
Melnik, however, appeared unrepentant. On Wednesday, he published a picture of his interview in the printed FAZ edition on Twitter, and accompanied it with a caption in capital letters reading: “All Russians are our enemies.”
ALL RUSSIANS ARE NOW OUR ENEMIES pic.twitter.com/aExSotpJEX— Andrij Melnyk (@MelnykAndrij) April 6, 2022
The barrage of criticism, however, apparently failed to change the ambassador’s mind. In a recent tweet, he blasted another German music event that saw a Russian violinist awarded a prize. “I will never visit [the German city of] Osnabrück again,” Melnik wrote, denouncing the “hypocritical bridge-builders” whose musical bridges “lead straight to hell.”
The German authorities have not commented on the ambassador’s statements, although the magazine Stern called his words “drastic.”
Moscow launched a large-scale offensive in Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to regularize the status of the regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military alliance. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two rebel regions by force.