British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has clarified his recent comments about Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s lack of gratitude for the UK’s military support, stating that his words were misreported. He emphasized that the UK government will continue to assist Ukraine in procuring the necessary resources to succeed.
During the NATO summit in Lithuania, Wallace spoke to reporters about the desire for gratitude from Kiev. He recounted a trip to Ukraine where he was immediately presented with a list of demands from Ukrainian officials. In response, Wallace told them that Western countries are not like Amazon, implying that they cannot fulfill all of their demands instantly.
Zelensky sarcastically responded to Wallace’s comments, offering to personally thank him every morning. However, Wallace took to Facebook to clarify that he never intended to criticize the Ukrainian leader. He explained that his earlier remarks were about the need for Ukraine to recognize that not all countries and parliaments have the same level of support as the UK. He emphasized that his comments were directed at citizens and MPs across the international community, not just the Ukrainian government.
Wallace also addressed his remarks about the UK-Ukraine relationship not being transactional but rather a partnership. He stated that this comment was made last year to highlight the nature of the relationship and the UK’s commitment to supporting Ukraine.
It is worth noting that Zelensky is not the only leader to face scrutiny over his gratitude towards Western support. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made a similar remark, suggesting that the American people and the rest of the world deserve gratitude for their willingness to aid Ukraine.
Since the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine last February, the UK has provided £4.6 billion ($6.03 billion) in weapons and military aid. The US has committed over $42 billion, significantly more than the UK. However, British officials have been particularly supportive of Ukraine, being the first to offer main battle tanks, long-range missiles, and training on F-16 fighter jets.
Wallace described himself as someone who has been actively working to galvanize support for Ukraine. He reiterated his commitment to helping Ukraine procure the resources it needs to succeed.
In conclusion, Ben Wallace has clarified his comments about Ukrainian President Zelensky’s gratitude, stating that his words were misreported. He emphasized that the UK government will continue to support Ukraine and help it obtain the necessary resources. Wallace’s remarks were not directed at the Ukrainian government but rather citizens and MPs across the international community. He joins other Western officials in highlighting the need for gratitude towards the support provided to Ukraine.