UK defense secretary says Ukraine’s allies want gratitude

The U.K. Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, photographed at the Warsaw Security Forum on Oct. 04, 2022.Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty ImagesLONDON — In comments that caused a stir on the sidelines of this week’s major NATO summit, the U.K.’s defense secretary said he believed Ukraine’s allies wanted to “see gratitude” and that his country was “not Amazon” when it came to the delivery of weapons.In Vilnius, Lithuania, Ben Wallace spoke about the military needs of Ukraine, which has been battling Russia’s full-scale invasion since Feb. 2022.According to widely reported comments, Wallace said that “whether we like it or not, people want to see gratitude.””My counsel to the Ukrainians is sometimes you’re persuading countries to give up their own stocks [of weapons] and yes, the war is a noble war and yes, we see it as you doing a war for not just yourself but our freedoms,” Sky News quoted him as saying.”I said to the Ukrainians last year, when I drove 11 hours to [Kyiv to] be given a list — I said, ‘I am not Amazon’,” he went on to add.Read more about energy from CNBC ProWallace’s comments came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed frustration about the lack of a timeline regarding his country’s accession to NATO, which he called “absurd.”Leaders of NATO member states have made clear that Ukraine has a future place in the military alliance, but that no action can be taken on this front while the country is still at war.Zelenskyy has also repeatedly called for more support when it comes to the delivery of weapons to Ukraine.In response to Wallace’s comments, the Ukrainian leader replied to a question from Sky News by stating “we were always grateful.” “I didn’t know what he meant and how else I should express my words of gratitude,” he added.Wallace’s remarks also drew pushback from his own prime minister, Rishi Sunak, during a press conference at the summit on Wednesday. “I know President Zelenskyy has repeatedly expressed his gratitude to me and to the British people and, indeed, other allies as well,” Sunak said.Elsewhere, Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Goncharenko tweeted that his country was “really grateful” to Wallace “for everything he has done for Ukraine.”Goncharenko said the U.K. had “always supported us, they are one of our most important allies. They helped us with weapons (a lot of weapons) and provided humanitarian aid.”—CNBC’s Natasha Turak contributed to this report

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