MoD criticises Ukrainian deputy FM appointment

"In my opinion, it is a bad decision," Blaszczak said on Tuesday of Melnyk's appointment. Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

Poland's defence minister has described as a "bad decision" the appointment of Ukraine's former ambassador to Germany as a deputy foreign minister.

Mariusz Blaszczak, who is also a deputy prime minister, said the appointment of Andriy Melnyk would be enjoyed by Vladimir Putin, adding that he was surprised by the move.

Melnyk has been known for his very critical remarks about the German government after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and for his statements justifying the massacres of Ukraine's Polish population carried out by Stepan Bandera's Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).

He was dismissed as an ambassador by President Volodymyr Zelensky in July.

Bandera, a Ukrainian wartime nationalist leader, remains a deeply divisive historical figure. To some he is a hero who fought for a free Ukraine, while to others he is a criminal, responsible for the murder of countless thousands of Poles and Jews.

"In my opinion, it is a bad decision," Blaszczak said on Tuesday of Melnyk's appointment. "I believe that apart from the interested party himself, one more person will enjoy this decision - the inhabitant of the Kremlin. Because there is no doubt that it can be judged this way. So I am surprised."

Speaking on public radio, Blaszczak also said that when he had spoken to Ukraine's new ambassador to Poland, Vasyl Zvarych, for the first time, he had commented on the "statements of the former Ukrainian ambassador to Berlin."

"This is really a bad signal," the defence minister said.

Melnyk's appointment was announced on Friday and drew criticism from Poland's Presidential Palace on Sunday.

Minister Andrzej Dera from President Andrzej Duda's Office, said that he was surprised by what had happened.

"Personally, I am surprised, because as the Polish side, we always oppose the Bandera narrative; it is unacceptable and in no way can we accept politicians who introduce such a narrative into the public space," he said.

He added that Poland, however, is not a country that interferes in internal affairs and the appointment of politicians to functions in another country.