On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered the recall of Andriy Melnyk, who had caused a stir by defending a Nazi collaborator from the 20th century.
A decree issued by Zelenskyy’s presidential office on Saturday afternoon only mentioned Melnyk’s “dismissal,” without mentioning the reasons behind it, the ambassador’s next destination, or the person who would take his place.
Melnyk, who had been ambassador to Berlin for close to eight years, was rumored to be returning to the Ukrainian foreign ministry and possibly taking on a senior position as deputy foreign minister, though this has not been confirmed.
In Germany, Melnyk had been a controversial but decisive top diplomat. He vehemently urged Olaf Scholz’s administration to do more while openly criticizing the Berlin government for the early war’s slow pace of weapon deliveries to Ukraine.
He publicly attacked Chancellor Scholz in May, referring to him as acting “like an offended liver sausage”—a term used in German to describe someone who is easily offended.
In an interview last week, Melnyk sparked controversy by defending Stepan Bandera, a Nazi collaborator and leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement who was assassinated in 1959. Given the lack of supporting evidence, the ambassador asserted that “Bandera was not a mass murderer of Jews and Poles.”
Germans were outraged by Melnyk’s comments, but Poland, one of Ukraine’s strongest allies in the war against Russia, saw a backlash that led the foreign ministry to formally complain to Kiev.
Israel’s embassy in Germany had previously denounced Melnyk’s comments, claiming that they “distort historical facts, minimize the Holocaust, and are an insult to those who were murdered by Bandera and his people.”
Last week, the Ukrainian foreign ministry made a public statement distancing itself from Melnyk’s comments. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a statement that “the ambassador… Melnyk’s opinion is of his own and does not reflect the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.”