16 July 2023

Ben Wallace says Ukraine remarks were ‘misrepresented’

16 July 2023

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has pledged his support for Ukraine after suggesting the invaded country should show “gratitude” for the military support it has been given.

Mr Wallace, who revealed in The Sunday Times he plans to resign at the next Cabinet reshuffle and stand down as an MP at the next election, tweeted a lengthy thread in Ukrainian to clarify his comments.

He had made the remark after Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky branded it “absurd” for Nato to insist there were still conditions for his nation to meet before it can gain membership once the war with Russia is over.

Mr Wallace tweeted: “My comments about how best to support Ukraine caused a lot of interest and were somewhat misrepresented.

“For the record, as someone who has been at the forefront of mobilising support for Ukraine, I have discussed the challenges that may arise as we work towards the common goal of helping Ukraine get what it needs to defeat this illegal invasion.

“I said that Ukraine sometimes needs to realise that in many countries and in some parliaments there is not such strong support as in Great Britain.”

He said his remark was not a comment about governments, but “more about citizens and members of parliaments”.

“We are fortunate that the citizens of the United Kingdom and all parties in our parliament support our efforts to provide Ukraine with the necessary means,” he said.

“Our approval ratings for supporting Ukraine are among the highest in Europe – over 70%.

“My comments were meant to reflect that it is important to remember not to talk to yourself, but to make an effort to reach out to other citizens who still need to be convinced.”

Mr Wallace also addressed comments when he said the UK was not online delivery service Amazon after being handed a wish list for military supplies.

“The comments about Amazon were made last year to emphasise that Britain’s relationship with Ukraine is not ‘transactional’ but more ‘partnership’,” he said.

“I will personally continue to support Ukraine on its path for as long as it takes, but national parliaments often have competing needs and Ukraine and the UK must continue to encourage this strong support, with facts and friendship.”

Last week Prime Minister Rishi Sunak distanced himself from the comments, saying the Ukrainian president has “expressed his gratitude for what we’ve done on a number of occasions”.

Mr Zelensky later said: “I believe that we were always grateful to United Kingdom.

“I don’t know what he meant and how else we should be grateful.”

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