"People are not yet ready to objectively discuss the personality of Bandera"

Outgoing Ambassador of Ukraine Andriy Melnyk spoke again on Sunday about Ukrainian partisan leader Stephan Bandera.

"People are not yet ready to objectively discuss the personality of Bandera"

Outgoing Ambassador of Ukraine Andriy Melnyk spoke again on Sunday about Ukrainian partisan leader Stephan Bandera. He regrets that his statements in Germany, Poland, Israel or "anywhere else in the world" have hurt feelings, he told Deutschlandfunk. It was a mistake to engage in a discussion about Bandera in an interview, he said. "The people, neither here nor abroad, partly also in Ukraine", are "probably not yet ready", the "personality of Bandera, but also overall what happened in Ukraine during World War II, to discuss factually and factually". This field should be "best left to the historians," said Melnyk.

In early July, Melnyk came under pressure after controversial statements about nationalist leader Stephan Bandera. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the statements about Bandera (1909-1959) as Melnyk's personal opinion, which did not reflect the official position. Poland, where Bandera was sentenced to life imprisonment in the 1930s for involvement in the assassination of the then interior minister, condemned the remarks as totally unacceptable.

The Berlin historian Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe wrote in an article for "Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte" that Bandera, as a Ukrainian nationalist leader, was at least "morally" responsible for the crimes of the "Ukrainian Insurgent Army" and the radical split of the "Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists" under his leadership been. Before World War II, Bandera declared that in order to achieve his goals "not just hundreds, but thousands of lives would have to be sacrificed" and that "mass violence or the 'cleansing' of Ukraine from Jews, Poles, Russians and other 'enemies'" was the goal .

In an interview with journalist Tilo Jung, Melnyk defended Bandera: "Bandera was not a mass murderer of Jews and Poles." According to Melnyk, Bandera was deliberately demonized by the Soviet Union. At the time, the ambassador accused German, Polish and Israeli historians of having played along. "I'm against blaming all the crimes on Bandera," the diplomat said. "There is no evidence that Bandera troops murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews," Melnyk said at the time.

Melnyk also spoke on "Deutschlandfunk" about his time as Ambassador of Ukraine in Germany, which is now coming to an end. In the recent past, Melnyk has often been unorthodox and has been unusually sharp about German politicians for a diplomat. In May, he described Chancellor Olaf Scholz as “offended liverwurst”.

Melnyk said in the interview that he "regrets" it if he resorted to "verbal means that seemed undiplomatic to some." At the same time, he explained that the "only reason or the only motivation behind it was that I ... because we love Germany because we felt comfortable here, because Germany and the German people were and are very close to us and my only wish was that these relations between Ukraine and Germany should become closer and that the Germans would understand us better.”

Despite harsh criticism, says Melnyk, he has never insulted Germany as a country. Instead, he “kept trying to criticize the government. And I think in many cases that criticism was justified because the help we needed didn't come or didn't come soon enough." From his point of view, it was inevitable to also cause controversy: "We are at war. We look for solutions. Very often we don't find any. And that's why, from my point of view, it was necessary to offend.”

In view of the ongoing war, the outgoing ambassador called on Ukraine's western allies for continued arms supplies and suggested partnerships to produce state-of-the-art weapons systems. "Germany and the USA, the British, all our partners really have to give everything they can to help us," said Melnyk. He "unfortunately" does not believe that this point has already been reached.

"One shows solidarity," said Melnyk, "but the feeling is still missing: Yes, we have to give everything". A consistently high deterrent potential for Ukraine against Russia can only be guaranteed if "we form partnerships together with the Germans, the British or the Americans" in order to "create really state-of-the-art weapon systems", the Russians no longer see any temptation to take us further to attack

Germany attested to Melnyk's progress in providing support. “If we compare where we started over 160 days ago, yes, there were those 5,000 helmets and other stories. Today we are a little further. We are grateful for that,” said Melnyk.

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