Ukraine’s foreign minister caused a diplomatic row with Russia on Sunday after nonchalantly referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin as the equivalent of a “dickhead.”
Andriy Deshchytsia’s salty comment, which he made while trying to reason with protesters outside the Russian embassy in Ukraine, sparked calls from Russia for his resignation.
Deshchytsia showed up at the embassy in response to sometimes-violent protests outside the embassy. Ukrainians overturned cars and broke windows at the embassy over the weekend after pro-Russian separatists shot down a Ukrainian military plane, killing all 49 people aboard.
After Deshchytsia tried to calm the crowd, he was shouted down. According to The Guardian, he then said, “I am for you protesting. I am ready to be here with you and say ‘Russia, get out of Ukraine.’ … Yes, Putin is a khuilo, yes.”
The Guardian translates “khuilo” as a Russian swearword that means “f — er” or “dickhead.”
Russia did not take the comment well, after already being incensed about the protests on the embassy.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told French counterpart Laurent Fabius that he was furious about “the inaction of the Kiev authorities who allowed the rioting outside the Russian embassy,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian lower house of parliament’s international affairs committee, suggested on Twitter that new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko “ought to change” his foreign minister. He added that Deshchytsia does not “control himself” very well, and he might get drunk and “barf all over the U.N. General Assembly.”
Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, took a different tone, praising the “skilled diplomat” Deshchytsia on Twitter for “seeking to defuse a dangerous situation.”
That comment earned a snipe from the head of the Kremlin-funded television station Russia Today, Margarita Simonyan, who quipped that Ukraine must have legalized marijuana. “Whoa, bad idea,” she wrote on Twitter.
Американский посол про известную сентенцию Дешицы написал, что Дешица проявил себя как искусный дипломат. Ох, зря они травку легализуют.
— Маргарита Симоньян (@M_Simonyan) June 15, 2014
For his part, Deshchytsia hasn’t directly yet commented on the diplomatic row surrounding his off-hand remarks near the Russian embassy.
He did write on Twitter: “We managed to stop violence at the Russian embassy yesterday, but it will be difficult to do so in future if Russian aggression continues.”
The Ukrainian crisis has intensified in the past few days — even before the incidents over the weekend. Last Thursday, Russian tanks made their way into the hands of pro-Russian separatists, an escalation the U.S. called “unacceptable.”
The new developments led U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to call on President Barack Obama to impose new sanctions on Russia.
“In my view, unless Putin is confronted by stronger disincentives, he will not cease support for the insurgents who are occupying more and more Ukrainian territory along the Russian border,” Menendez wrote in a letter to Obama. “He will continue to seek to ensure that the Ukrainian government can’t stabilise the situation or address the pressing needs of the Ukrainian public.”
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