So, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, has finally decided to fill the long-vacant vacancy in London by appointing Ukraine’s ex-Army Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi to this post. This is his prerogative.

At first glance, I'm happy that this inexplicably long delay in filling this important post has been addressed. That a replacement for the previous very capable ambassador Vadym Prystaiko, dismissed in July 2023 at the whim of the president, has been identified.

The UK, after all, has become, Ukraine’s major ally and maintaining diplomatic relations at the appropriate level is critical.

There was no excuse for Zelensky and his team to have sacked Ukraine’s ambassador in London, the very capable Vadym Prystaiko, in the abrupt and unexplained way as was done, and to have delayed for so long in appointing a replacement. Unless, someone high up had an interest in this?


Now, as a Brit of Ukrainian origin committed to Ukrainian matters, I’m not at all happy with the choice of the replacement and am convinced it invites more questions than it offer solutions.

Why is Zaluzhny suddenly being moved to London His reassignment to the UK is indeed a very strange decision. Surely the former military chief is still needed in Kyiv to help direct Ukraine's military efforts rather than abroad?

More to the point, who in Kyiv might want him out of the way? Zaluzhny is after all still the most popular figure in Ukraine at this moment. For some time, he has been at the top of the political popularity polls in Ukraine, above Zelensky himself. And the latter is reported to be very sensitive about his ratings.

Zelensky Reveals Reason Behind Commander Zaluzhny’s Dismissal
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Zelensky Reveals Reason Behind Commander Zaluzhny’s Dismissal

Zelensky said that he awarded Zaluzhny the Hero of Ukraine title in gratitude for the general’s defense of the nation, stating “I am very grateful to him.”

Here, as a Brit, I recall the case of Henry II in the 12th centry who when confronted with the growing authority of a close dissenting associate, the arcbishop Thomas Becket, asked out loud: “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?” Shortly afterwards some of his cronies took his request at face value and murdered his friend and critic.


I’m not suggesting it's assassination in this case but sending a potential political rival into honorable exile and thereby removing him from the domestic political radar screen is another form of political neutralization of a possible political rival.

What will Zhaluzny’s added value be in London? Does he have the requisite diplomatic experience and skills? How good is his English?

Will Zaluzhny be seen as a political reject by Zelensky’s inner circle in need of a respectable anchorage, rather than a veritable new conduit between Kyiv and London?

Are there is no shortage of other senior Ukrainian diplomats awaiting and deserving new assignments who could have filled this important niche? I think, among others, of the former foreign ministers Andrii Deshchytsia, and Pavlo Klimkin, or the former Ukrainian Representative to the UN, Volodymyr Yelchenko.    

And for that matter what happened to the candidacy of former Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov for the post of ambassador in London? It was initially presented in the media as a foregone conclusion. Why the lack of transparency in his case?

All this regrettably seems related to the gradual usurpation by Zelensky’s inner team of the role of the foreign ministry and concentrating decision making and appointments policy in its hands.


For a democratic country heading for Europe, this is not good, nor acceptable. Someone has to ask: Hey, what’s going on? It is my duty as a journalist to flag this issue.

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