One of the most senior European diplomats with extensive experience in India’s relations with eastern Europe, Igor Polikha was relieved of his ambassadorial assignment to India by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Ambassador Polikha started his diplomatic career as an official for the erstwhile Soviet Union and his first India posting was in 1989 as a diplomat in the embassy of the USSR.
The decree which refrained from divulging the reason for the abrupt dismissals, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky removed Kyiv’s senior ambassadors to the Czech Republic, Norway, Hungary along with India and the country’s outspoken ambassador to Germany.
Mr Polikha, apounted and Ukraine’s ambassodor to India in 2014, however was unperturbed and said he was ” neither surprised nor disappointed by the announcement” and reasoned that
“After seven years as ambassador of any country, it is normal to return home. I am a career diplomat. I will return whenever the official process is completed,”
Ukraine is in the midst of a raging battle with Russia after the invasion by the latter in February this year. Initially thought to be a minor scuffle to end in Russia’s favour, the war is yet not over with Ukraine seemingly putting up strong resistance to the “aggressor’ by fighting tooth and nail under a surprisingly valiant and heroic leadership of President Zelensky.
Out of the five diplomats removed, 46 year old Andriy Melnyk appointed as ambassador to Germany in late 2014, has been most outspoken. Ukraine’s diplomatic relations with Germany, which is Europe’s biggest economy are most tenuous during recent crisis as Germany is exremely heavily reliant on Russian energy supplies.
The outgoing Ukrainian ambasador to Germany was known for his outspokenness. He branded politicians and intellectuals opposing to arm Ukraine for fighting the Russians as appeasers.He also once famously said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was ” behaving like an offended liver sausage” when Scholz did not immediately accept an invitation by Zelensky to visit Kyiv.
Melnyk also received a lot of flake for defending the Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, who led a group responsible for ethnic cleansing and the massacre of tens of thousands of Poles and Jews during World War II.
Another bone of contention between Kyiv and Berlin is a German-made turbine undergoing maintenance in Canada. While Kiev maintains that it would be breach of sanctions, Germany is pushing for the turbine to be returned to Russian natural gas giant Gazprom to pump gas to Europe.
The outgoing Ukrainian ambassador to India Mr. Igor Polikha steadily maintained India-Ukraine relations with the expansion of military, industrial, agricultural and people-to-people ties, during his tenure. On the sidelines of the COP26 summit in Glasgow last year, he worked to arrange a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Zelensky .