Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany has provoked outrage for paying homage to the notorious founding forefather of what is known today as the nationalistic "Azov" outfit.
Andriy Melnyk, who appears regularly on international talk shows, described as a national hero of Ukraine Stepan Bandera, who was the World War II-era pro-Nazi leader of the military branch of the the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B) which evolved into what is known today as the Azov battalion.
"Bandera was not a mass murderer of Jews and Poles," Melnyk falsely claimed in an interview with German journalist Tilo Jung on Thursday.
He argued that there was no evidence in this regard.
However, ample historical evidence proves Bandera was a Pro-Nazi Germany collaborator and the nationalistic militants under his command were involved in the murders of civilians, Jews and Poles.
Many people in the world share this unfavorable view regarding Bandera.
Poland condemned Melnyk's comments, calling his praising of Bandera as “unacceptable.”
Polish deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz wrote on a local online platform that "such an opinion and such words are absolutely unacceptable."
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry quickly moved to distance itself from Melnyk's comments.
"The opinion that the Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany Andriy Melnyk expressed in an interview with a German journalist is of his own and does not reflect the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement late on Thursday night.
It also expressed its gratitude to Poland "for its unprecedented support in the fight against Russian aggression," and emphasized the need for "unity in the face of shared challenges."
Russia launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, with the aim to “de-militarize” and to “de-Nazify” the neighboring country. However, the West has been sending a flood of advanced weapons to Kiev, exacerbating the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine's eastern Donbas, which is composed of the two breakaway regions, Donetsk and Luhansk, pro-Russian forces have declared independence.
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