Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has defended his country’s gratitude towards the West for its assistance in the form of weapons, ammunition, and other resources. This comes after both US and UK officials raised concerns about the lack of gratitude from Ukraine during the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Addressing the issue at a press conference, President Zelensky stated, “I don’t clearly understand the questions. We have always been grateful and always are grateful. I simply don’t know how else we should be grateful. We can wake up in the morning and thank the minister. Have him write to me how to be grateful, and I will be grateful.”
The Ukrainian leader’s response was in reference to comments made by UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who had urged Ukraine to show more gratitude instead of constantly pressuring the West. Wallace humorously added, “We are not Amazon,” implying that Ukraine should not expect immediate fulfillment of its requests like an online retailer.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also expressed his belief that some of Ukraine’s criticism towards the West was unwarranted. He highlighted the significant military support provided by Washington to Ukraine and emphasized that both the American people and the world deserved a degree of gratitude for their support.
The public criticism from UK and US officials comes in the wake of President Zelensky’s recent criticism of NATO for not providing Ukraine with a timeline for its membership and for what he perceived as a lack of respect. Zelensky’s comments, particularly his social media posts, reportedly infuriated the US leadership.
In an attempt to steer the NATO debate in Ukraine’s favor, President Zelensky and his staff sent a provocative tweet. However, this move proved to be counterproductive, according to unnamed diplomats and officials cited by Bloomberg. Several NATO leaders advised Zelensky during a dinner that he needed to “cool down” and reassess NATO’s actual offerings. Notably, President Joe Biden was absent from the dinner.
Following the incident, the UK delegation intervened to diffuse the situation and calm tensions, as reported by Bloomberg. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reassured reporters that Zelensky had expressed his gratitude numerous times to him personally, as well as to the Parliament and cabinet ministers, for the military aid provided and Western leadership.
It’s worth noting that the UK is the second-largest donor to Ukraine, providing $6 billion worth of materials, while the US has committed over $46 billion in aid, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy in Germany, which operates the Ukraine Support Tracker.
President Zelensky’s reassurance of gratitude towards the West aims to reestablish diplomatic relations and emphasize Ukraine’s appreciation for the support it has received. It remains to be seen how this display of gratitude will impact future dealings between Ukraine and its Western allies.