Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy has sacked his UK ambassador, days after he criticised the president on Sky News.
Vadym Prystaiko was dismissed this morning, just over three years to the day since he was given the job in London.
A diplomatic source told the PA news agency Mr Prystaiko had been fired after publicly criticising Mr Zelenskyy.
Speaking to Sky News’ Kay Burley last week, he labelled the president’s “sarcastic” response to demands he shows more gratitude for Western support as unhealthy.
Zelenskyy’s spat with Wallace
It came after UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace appeared to show frustration with Mr Zelenskyy’s continued requests for more military aid.
“The UK is not an ‘Amazon’ delivery service for weapons to Ukraine,” he quipped at a NATO summit in Lithuania.
Mr Zelenskyy later 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.”
Zelenskyy’s response ‘not healthy’
Mr Prystaiko distanced himself from his president’s response during his interview with Kay Burley.
“I believe it was responded by a little bit of sarcasm,” he said. “I don’t believe that this sarcasm is healthy.
“We don’t have to show the Russians that we have something between us.
“They have to know that we are working together.
“If an issue happens, Ben [Wallace] can call me and tell me everything he wants.”
Prystaiko’s long career in politics
As well as being sacked as UK ambassador, Mr Prystaiko has been removed as Ukraine’s representative to the International Maritime Organization.
Before being appointed to London in July 2020, he spent two decades working in Kyiv’s foreign policy unit.
He has worked in embassies and consulates around the world, including in Australia, Canada, and the US, and was Ukraine’s head of mission for NATO in 2017.
Mr Prystaiko has also served as his president’s foreign policy adviser and deputy chief of staff.
Prystaiko has been incredibly effective as Ukraine’s envoy
I’ve been told by sources that it is the comments that the ambassador made on Sky’s Kay Burley show that were a factor in this decision to dismiss him.
It’s a huge shame because the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK has been a hugely powerful and important supporter of Ukraine’s efforts to get more weapons.
He is always out on the circuit speaking to officials and other ambassadors here in London. He is really well regarded. He has been incredibly effective as an envoy for Ukraine.
This whole episode happened at the Lithuanian NATO summit. The now-outgoing defence secretary Ben Wallace was talking to journalists.
I asked him a question about NATO’s failure to give Ukraine a time frame to join the alliance, which is something that President Zelenskyy has long been asking for.
I asked whether the defence secretary was worried that this could impact morale on the frontline. Ben Wallace said he wasn’t worried about that.
But then he proceeded to go into this monologue about how the Ukrainians need to show gratitude, and was referring to the fact that they need to show gratitude to the UK – but obviously they do say thank you when they get weapons.
It’s a broader point about how there are politicians in certain countries, like the US, that aren’t universally supportive of the war – and that perhaps the Ukrainians need to be a bit more diplomatically savvy when they’re interacting with them.
But the fact that this has triggered an avalanche, potentially leading to the sacking of Ukraine’s ambassador, is pretty extraordinary.