British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace sparked controversy on Wednesday when he made a remark that did not correspond to the harmonious relationship between Kiev and London, when he called on Ukraine to show more gratitude to its allies, indicating that his country is not an “Amazon store” for arms supplies.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was quick to dismiss any suggestion that London was bothered by the president’s intense pressure. Volodymyr Zelensky During the NATO summit in Vilnius to get more weapons.
Zelensky himself denied the existence of any tension in the relationship between the two allies.
Sunak and Ben Wallace – AFP
But against the backdrop of Ukrainian frustration that the NATO summit did not lay out any clear timetable for Ukraine to join the alliance, Wallace’s comments generated several embarrassing headlines pointing to differences.
“One light word of caution is, like it or not, people want to see gratitude,” Wallace told British media on the sidelines of the Atlantic Summit in Vilnius.
“Sometimes you try to get countries to give up their own stocks. And yes, it is a noble war, and yes, we see that you are fighting it not only for yourselves but also for our freedoms,” he added.
Ukrainian President (AP)
Wallace said he told officials in Kiev after receiving a list of weapons orders from them last year, “I’m not an Amazon store.”
When asked about Wallace’s remarks, Sunak replied that Zelensky “expressed his gratitude for what we have done on several occasions.”
“Not least in his hugely moving speech to Parliament earlier this year, and he did it again with me, as he did many times when I was meeting him,” he told reporters in Vilnius.
As for Zelensky, he responded in an angry tone to journalists’ inquiries about the matter during his press conference in Vilnius, saying, “I think we have always been grateful to the United Kingdom,” thanking the British people for their support and their government for close cooperation.
Then he turned to his defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, and asked him if he had a problem with Wallace, and when the latter denied it, Zelensky added, “Why don’t you give him words of gratitude? (…) That’s great. Please call him today.”
On the second day of the NATO summit in Vilnius, the leaders of the Group of Seven pledged to provide “long-term” military support to Ukraine to help it repel the Russian invasion and prevent Moscow from attacking it in the future.
Zelensky welcomed the security guarantees, but made no secret of the fact that he would have preferred NATO’s approval of Ukraine’s annexation.
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