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8 Mar, 2024 21:14

Zelensky could fire foreign minister – Ukrainian media

Dmitry Kuleba may soon lose his job, as Kiev grows unhappy about the diplomatic service
Zelensky could fire foreign minister – Ukrainian media

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky is thinking about dismissing Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, the outlet Strana reported on Friday, citing a source in the presidential office. 

Kuleba, 42, has been foreign minister since March 2020. Prior to that, he was deputy prime minister for Euro-Atlantic integration and Ukraine’s envoy to the Council of Europe. 

“There are a lot of questions for Kuleba,” the anonymous source told Strana. “In particular, there are a lot of complaints regarding the candidacies of ambassadors provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

Zelensky’s office is “generally dissatisfied with the diplomatic service,” the source added.

Strana’s report coincided with the resignation of OIeg Nikolenko, the chief spokesman for the Foreign Ministry. Posting a photo of himself with Kuleba on Facebook, he announced on Friday that his service with the ministry was ending, without specifying why. 

On Thursday, Zelensky announced he was appointing General Valery Zaluzhny – former commander in chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces – as Kiev’s new ambassador to London. The post has been empty since July last year, when Zelensky fired Ambassador Vadim Pristayko for criticizing his behavior at the NATO summit.

According to Strana, the “most likely candidate” for the new foreign minister is Igor Zhovkva, Zelensky’s deputy chief of staff, who oversees foreign policy at the presidential office.

Kuleba’s current deputy is Andrey Melnik, Ukraine’s former ambassador in Germany. He became notorious during his tenure in Berlin for outright un-diplomatic behavior, from insulting the host country by dubbing Chancellor Olaf Scholz an “offended liver sausage,” to cursing out Elon Musk, donor of priceless Starlink satellite services to Ukraine.

He was finally withdrawn in November 2022, after glorifying WWII Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera on a podcast.

Once back in Kiev, however, Melnik was rewarded with a promotion to deputy foreign minister – the rank he kept even after Zelensky appointed him ambassador to Brazil last June.