FM Kuleba explains to Polish counterpart recent statements about Stepan Bandera from Ukraine's ambassador in Germany
1 July, 2022

Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany Andrij Melnyk in an interview with German journalists answered a question about Stepan Bandera, head of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, but his answer upset Polish politicians. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now commented on these statements.

In an interview for the Jung & Naiv program, journalists asked Ambassador Melnyk about laying flowers on the grave of Stepan Bandera (he is buried in Munich's Waldfriedhof cemetery), to which the ambassador replied that he was a fighter for the independence of Ukraine.

Melnyk also noted that Stepan Bandera was not a mass murderer of Jews and Poles, and there is no evidence that Ukrainian troops killed hundreds of thousands of Jews. "This is the narrative that the Russians are still promoting. It finds backing in Germany, Poland and Israel," DW quotes Melnyk as saying.

When asked about the massacres of the Polish population, Melnyk noted that mass murders of both Poles and Ukrainians took place during this period. And when asked about the collaborators, the ambassador answered that they were all over Europe, and Bandera tried to use the struggle between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to gain independence for Ukraine.

What is the reaction?

The interview with Melnyk received wide media coverage in Germany, and his statements caused a backlash on social media, particularly among Polish officials.

Witold Waszczykowski, the former head of the Polish Foreign Ministry, reacted to Melnyk's words. "A strange thanks for Poland's efforts [for Ukraine] to become a candidate for the European Union, accepting millions of refugees and donating a large number of weapons," he wrote on Twitter.

The current Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Zbigniew Rau, noted that he had discussed this with the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba.

"I had a conversation with my friend from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba in connection with the falsifications of history in the statements of the Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany. I thanked Minister Kuleba for public intervention in this case," Rau wrote.

After that, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine published an official statement, emphasizing that Melnyk's words in the interview "are his personal opinion and do not reflect the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine."

"We are sure that the relations between Ukraine and Poland are now at their peak. Ukraine is grateful to Poland for its unprecedented support in the fight against Russian aggression. Nothing separates us, as both Kyiv and Warsaw have a complete understanding of the need to maintain unity in the face of urgent threats," the statement reads.

Melnyk's wife, Svitlana, said that this incident was a "journalistic provocation to drive a wedge between Ukrainians and Poles."

"But there is no disaster without good. This story eventually helped to start a heated discussion about the figure of Bandera in the German mass media, in less than a day more than 80 million (!) tweets were published on Twitter, dedicated to this topic," she wrote.