Ukraine's ambassador to UK 'sacked by Zelensky' after diplomatic spat over weapons

Ukraine's ambassador to UK 'sacked by Zelensky' after diplomatic spat over weapons

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is believed to have sacked his ambassador to Britain, Vadym Prystaiko.

Mr Prystaiko has also been reportedly removed as Ukraine’s representative to the International Maritime Organization, a specialised agency of the United Nations looking at regulating shipping.

Kyiv hasn’t officially provided any reason for the Ukrainian official leaving his post, which he had held since July 20, 2020.

But a diplomatic source confirmed to PA that the veteran diplomat is no longer an ambassador after he publicly criticised his president.

However, the source was unable to say whether Mr Prystaiko had been sacked by Mr Zelensky, as indicated in reports by other news agencies.

Mr Prystaiko sparked turmoil in Ukraine last week after publicly criticising the remarks made by his president amid a row with Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

During last week’s NATO summit in Vilnius, the British minister said the international community wanted to “see gratitude” for the support given to war-torn Ukraine and that the Western allies were “not Amazon”, simply ready to ship more military equipment.

Mr Zelensky had fired back during a press conference, saying he “didn’t know what he meant” as Ukraine has always been grateful to the UK for its help and support.

Later, the Ukrainian president also issued a mocking response, as he said: “How else can we show our gratitude?

“We can wake up in the morning and thank the minister. Let him write to me and tell me how to thank him.”

Appearing on Sky News eight days ago, Mr Prystaiko openly criticised his president’s words, saying: “I don’t think that kind of sarcasm is healthy.

“I don’t think we need to show the Russians there is something between us. We’re working together, Ben can call me and tell me anything he wants to.”

Following the words of the ambassador, who also served as Foreign Minister between 2019 and 2020, there was concern Russia may twist his words and show a deeper split within the Ukrainian leadership.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak distanced himself from the criticism of Ukraine by Mr Wallace, who will leave his post at the next Cabinet reshuffle.

Rather, Mr Sunak said Mr Zelensky had repeatedly expressed his gratitude, adding he thinks “everyone can see that’s how he feels”.

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