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21 Jul, 2023 11:54

Zelensky fires diplomat who criticized him

Ukraine’s envoy to the UK had publicly scolded the president for his conduct at the NATO summit in Vilnius
Zelensky fires diplomat who criticized him

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has sacked his country’s ambassador to Britain Vadim Pristayko, who recently criticized the head of state. A decree confirming the dismissal was published on the president’s website on Friday.

According to the document, Pristayko has also lost his job as Kiev’s permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a UN body that has its headquarters in London.

The diplomat’s dismissal comes less than two weeks after he publicly criticized Zelensky for his conduct at the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11 and 12.

Even before arriving at the high-profile event, the Ukrainian president had lashed out at the US-led military bloc on social media, claiming that its “indecisiveness” on Kiev’s membership bid was a sign of “weakness.” According to the Washington Post, the US delegation was “furious” about the remarks.

A heated exchange between Zelensky and top US and UK officials in the Lithuanian capital reportedly followed. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told journalists on the sidelines of the summit that allies “want to see gratitude” from Ukraine for the military assistance that NATO states have provided to the country amid the conflict with Russia.

Wallace also recalled how he told the Ukrainian officials during his visit to Kiev last year that Western nations “are not Amazon.”

During a press conference in Vilnius, Zelensky claimed that Ukraine had “always been grateful” to the UK and called on Wallace to “write to me how to be grateful” in a way that would satisfy him. “We can wake up every morning and thank the minister personally,” he added.

Pristayko’s opinion of these comments was sought by Sky News journalists. “I don’t believe that this sarcasm is healthy,” the diplomat replied.

According to the ambassador, Zelensky’s behavior undermined NATO’s attempts to display unity with Kiev amid the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

“We do not have to show… Russians that there is… something between us. They have to know that we are working together,” Pristayko stated. He suggested that Kiev and NATO should sort out their differences behind the scenes, saying that “if anything happens, Ben [Wallace] can call me and tell me everything he wants.”

Pristayko had been Kiev’s ambassador to the UK since July 2020. During his career, the 53-year-old diplomat occupied a number of top positions, including Ukrainian foreign minister in 2019-2020, and the country’s envoy to NATO in 2017-2019.