Outspoken Ukrainian ex-ambassador named deputy minister

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine's outspoken former ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, has been appointed to the post of deputy foreign minister, a senior official said on Friday.

Taras Melnychuk, the government's representative to parliament, announced the appointment on the Telegram messaging app.

Melnyk served for seven years as ambassador and was brought back to Kyiv quietly last month after making comments about wartime nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, who still divides opinion in Ukraine and abroad.

Bandera was one of the leaders of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) that fought both Nazi and Soviet troops, but his allies also stand accused of the mass slaughter of Poles in what is today part of post-Soviet Ukraine.

Melnyk, a frequent guest on German television talk shows, said he had defended Bandera to show that he was a revered figure in parts of the country.

After Russia's invasion in February, Melnyk criticised what he said was a pro-Russian bias in Berlin and lobbied for the government to provide sophisticated weaponry for Ukraine.

Before his departure for home, Melnyk also became embroiled in an acerbic online exchange over tech billionaire Elon Musk's proposal for Ukraine to agree to cede annexed Crimea to Russia and hold new "referendums" in areas held by Russian troops.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski; Editing by Daniel Wallis)