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15 Jul. 2023

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Not grateful enough: how did Ben Wallace's attack on the UK's gratitude turn out?

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Not grateful enough: how did Ben Wallace's attack on the UK's gratitude turn out?

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace's indignation at the behaviour of Ukrainians has sparked a lot of discussion online. Find out how the Ukrainian authorities reacted and how the scandal of "not grateful enough Ukrainians" ended

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British Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace called on Ukraine to express more gratitude to its partners for military support instead of constantly demanding new weapons. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Oleksiy Danilov, and Dmytro Kuleba reacted to this statement.


The British Prime Minister and the Finnish Foreign Minister sided with Zelenskyy, supporting him. Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine's ambassador to the UK, in turn, called Zelenskyy's reaction to Wallace's words "unhealthy sarcasm."


Read further in the article to find out how such outrageous reproaches of Ukrainians turned out and how Ben Wallace commented on the scandal surrounding his words.


Ungrateful Ukrainians: Ben Wallace's statement


At the recent opening of the NATO summit in Vilnius, it was expected that Ukraine would receive an invitation from the Alliance to join NATO, but this did not happen.  Ben Wallace was hurt by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's criticism of NATO's decision.


The UK Defense Secretary complained about Ukraine's ingratitude and called on the Ukrainian authorities to show "some gratitude" to the to the West for the assistance provided. Wallace said that Kyiv will always demand more.


"Whether we like it or not, people want to see some gratitude. Sometimes we have to ask countries to give up their weapons stockpiles. We donated 83 billion dollars or whatever it is. You know, we are not Amazon" he added.


Zelensky was surprised by Wallace's statement


The President of Ukraine told reporters that he did not really understand what Wallace's question was about:


"I don't really understand what the question is. We have always been very grateful to the UK. The British people have always supported Ukraine and we are grateful for that. How else can we show our gratitude? We can wake up in the morning and thank the minister. Let him write to me and tell me how to thank him" Zelenskyy said.


Later, in a traditional evening video address, Zelensky thanked the UK defense secretary more than 40 times in eight minutes.


This is not his true position. Danilov on Wallace's criticism  


The head of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, rejected the UK Defense Secretary's criticism of Kyiv, saying that he made an emotional mistake.


"You should not pay much attention to this. We all speak under the influence of emotions and regret it. I believe this is not his true position" Danilov said in an interview.


Kuleba calls UK Defense Secretary's statement an unfortunate misunderstanding


The head of Ukrainian diplomacy considers the words of the British Defense Secretary to be an "unfortunate misunderstanding."


"I apologize, but we are at war. Colleagues, ministers and foreign journalists often ask me if we are getting enough weapons. I tell them that as long as we are on the way to victory, we will not have enough weapons. When we win, we will say: Thank you, we had enough weapons. But as long as the struggle continues, we will not have enough" the Ukrainian Foreign Minister said.


Unhealthy sarcasm: Prystaiko on Zelensky's response


Former Foreign Minister and Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Kingdom Vadym Prystaiko called the words of the President of Ukraine in response to the accusations "unhealthy sarcasm" and believes that Ukraine does not need to show that it is at odds with its international partners.


"He said that every morning when he wakes up, he will call Ben Wallace and thank him, but I don't think that's healthy irony. President Zelenskiy responded to the sarcastic remarks about Amazon with an equally sarcastic response. But I think there is no need for sarcasm between friendly countries" he added.


British Prime Minister supports Zelenskyy


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sided with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, noting that the Ukrainian president "has repeatedly expressed his gratitude for what we have done" including in his extremely moving speech to Parliament earlier this year.


"People from all over Ukraine are fighting for their lives and freedom every day and paying a terrible price for it. We will continue to provide the necessary support" he said.


Finland also responded to the scandalous words about Ukraine's ingratitude


"Assistance to Ukraine is not charity" This was stated by Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen in an interview with the Financial Times.


"Ukraine is also fighting for our freedom and for the security structures of Europe" the minister said. She also said that the West is not "war weary" and is committed to supporting Ukraine.




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Wallace explains his words about lack of gratitude


British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has commented on his words about Ukraine's "lack of gratitude" for the assistance. According to the minister, he meant that Ukraine should accept the fact that many countries and some parliaments do not have the ability to provide such support as the UK.

 

"It is not about the government, but about the citizens of Ukraine and members of the international community. We are fortunate that the British people and all parties in parliament support our efforts to arm Ukraine" Wallace explained.


The Minister justified himself on Facebook


"My statements on how best to support Ukraine have attracted a lot of attention, and some of them have been distorted" the minister wrote on his Facebook page.


The defense minister noted that his comments reflect the importance of dialogue not only between governments, but also with public opinion, which still needs to be convinced about arms supplies to Ukraine.


Wallace emphasized that it is very good that all sides of public opinion and parliament support efforts to help Ukraine. The Minister also stated that the UK will continue to support Ukraine for as long as necessary.


Thus, the incorrectly worded commentary and "retelling in their own words" by some media outlets caused a deep misunderstanding between the parties.


Ukraine expresses its sincere gratitude to the UK for its support and assistance during the war that our country is waging to preserve its territorial integrity and sovereignty.


In these difficult moments, the support of the British government has proved to be extremely valuable and has helped to strengthen Ukraine's position as a country striving for peace and stability.


In recent weeks, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have liberated more territory than russia seized in 2023. Read more about what is happening on the frontline, where the Ukrainian army has made the most progress, and what victories we can already talk about at the front here


Photo: UK Gov




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