The Ukrainian foreign ministry has distanced itself from statements made by the ambassador in Berlin, Andriy Melnyk, about former nationalist leader Stepan Bandera (1909-1959).

"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 agency said on Friday night on its official website With.

Melnyk also became known in Germany for his criticism of the federal government's Ukraine policy.

As ambassador, Melnyk reports to the Foreign Ministry.

In the statement, which was written in English, the Foreign Ministry also thanked Warsaw for the current "unprecedented help" in the war against Russia.

It says literally: "We are convinced that relations between Ukraine and Poland are currently at their peak." In Poland, Melnyk's statements were met with criticism.

In an interview with the journalist Tilo Jung, the ambassador defended Bandera and said: "Bandera was not a mass murderer of Jews and Poles." There is no evidence of this.

Among other things, he pointed out that Stepan Bandera, whom he called a “freedom fighter”, was arrested by the Germans and taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp just a week after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

Born in 1909 in what was then Polish Galicia, Bandera was murdered in Munich in 1959 by a Soviet agent.

According to Melnyk, the character Banderas was deliberately demonized by the Soviet Union.

He accused German, Polish and Israeli historians of having played along.

"I'm against blaming all the crimes on Bandera," the diplomat said.

Jung had previously confronted Melnyk with a quote from a Ukrainian leaflet and the number of victims.

"There is no evidence that Bandera troops murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews," Melnyk said with conviction.

He also did not accept the accusation of collaboration with the Nazis.

"What does collaborative mean?

There were collaborators all over Europe - in France, in Belgium, in every state," Melnyk said of the cooperation of Ukrainian nationalists with Nazi Germany.

Bandera only tried to exploit the struggle between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union for Ukrainian independence.

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 1943 expulsions 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.