It is a rare diplomatic reaction: the Ukrainian foreign ministry reprimanded the country’s ambassador to Germany. Israel and Poland are outraged by him. And Melnyk himself? Try to end the discussion with an excuse.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, is under pressure after controversial statements about a former nationalist leader. The Israeli embassy in Germany accused Melnyk of playing down the Holocaust. Poland criticized the statements as absolutely unacceptable. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to which he reports, called the statements about Stepan Bandera (1909-1959) Melnyk’s personal opinion, which did not reflect the official position. According to a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian embassy in Berlin, Melnyk himself did not want to comment.

“The statements of the Ukrainian ambassador are a distortion of historical facts, a trivialization of the Holocaust and an insult to those who were murdered by Bandera and his people,” said the Israeli embassy in Berlin on Twitter on Friday. Melnyk’s statements “also undermine the courageous struggle of the Ukrainian people to live by democratic values ​​and in peace”.

Melnyk defended Bandera in an interview with journalist Tilo Jung, saying: “Bandera was not a mass murderer of Jews and Poles.” According to Melnyk, the character of Bandera was deliberately demonized by the Soviet Union. 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.”

The Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz told the Internet platform Wirtualna Polska on Friday: “Such a view and such words are absolutely unacceptable.”

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry declared on its website on Friday night: “The opinion of the Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, which he expressed in an interview with a German journalist, is his personal and does not reflect the position of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry .”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kyiv also thanked Warsaw for the current “unprecedented help” in the war against Russia. It literally says: “We are convinced that relations between Ukraine and Poland are currently at their peak.”

Melnyk did not want to comment on the foreign ministry’s distancing statement in Kyiv. This was announced by a spokeswoman for the embassy in Berlin at the request of the German Press Agency. The reason given was that an ambassador could not comment on the statements made by his own foreign ministry.

Bandera was the ideological leader of the radical wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Nationalist partisans from western Ukraine were responsible for ethnically motivated expulsions in 1943, in which tens of thousands of Polish civilians were murdered. Bandera fled to Germany after World War II, where he was murdered in 1959 by an agent of the Soviet secret service, the KGB.

The Federal Government referred to the statement by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, which had made it clear that this was the Ambassador’s personal opinion. A spokesman for the Foreign Office in Berlin said that Melnyk’s statements were noted.

Melnyk is also known in Germany for his sharp criticism of the federal government’s Ukraine policy. On Thursday, the diplomat called numerous German celebrities who spoke out in an appeal for a ceasefire in the Ukraine war as a “bunch of pseudo-intellectual failures”.