Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schoenbach came under fire after saying Putin deserved “respect” and Kiev would never regain Crimea.
The head of the German navy resigned after coming under fire at home and abroad for saying that Ukraine would never recapture the Crimean peninsula. annexed by Russia in 2014.
At an event in New Delhi, India, on Friday, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schoenbach also said it was important to have Russia on his side against China, and suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin deserve “respect”.
“Is Russia really interested in having a small piece of Ukraine’s land? No. Or to integrate it into the country? No, that’s nonsense. “Putin is probably putting pressure because he knows he can do it and he knows it divides the European Union,” Schoenbach said.
“What he (Putin) really wants is respect. And my God, giving someone respect is low cost, even no cost… It’s easy to give him the respect he really demands – and probably deserves too, “he added, adding that Russia is an old and important country. named.
Diplomatic efforts are focused on a escalation.
“Does Russia really want a tiny little strip of Ukrainian soil? Or integrate into the country, no it’s nonsense..Putin is probably putting pressure, cz he knows he can do it & it divides the EU..but what he really wants is high level respect ”, says the German naval chief in Delhi https://t.co/qDeqQp408X pic.twitter.com/MICZ0O7U78
– Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) 21 January 2022
Schoenbach’s remarks, captured on video, caused outrage in Ukraine and the German ambassador was summoned to receive his objections.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called on Germany to publicly reject the naval chief’s remarks, saying in a statement that it could undermine Western efforts to de-escalate the situation.
“Ukraine is grateful to Germany for the support it has provided since 2014, as well as for the diplomatic efforts to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict. But Germany’s current statements are disappointing and run counter to that support and effort, “Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a separate tweet.
The remarks also caused consternation and a swift rebuke in Berlin.
By late Saturday, Schoenbach had submitted his resignation, saying he wanted to prevent further damage to Germany and his army.
“My hasty remarks in India … are putting increasing pressure on my office,” he said. “I consider this step (the resignation) necessary to prevent further damage to the German navy, the German forces and especially the Federal Republic of Germany.”
In a statement, the German navy said Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht had accepted Schoenbach’s resignation and appointed his deputy as interim naval chief.
The German government has said it is united with its NATO allies over the issue of Russia’s military threat to Ukraine, and warns that Moscow will pay a high price if it takes any military action against its neighbor.
But unlike many other NATO countries, Berlin says it will not supply Ukraine with weapons, arguing that it does not want to inflame tensions further.
On Saturday, the first shipment of a $ 200 million US security support package for Ukraine arrived in Kiev, the US embassy said. The delivery follows US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Kiev this week amid concerns over Russian military build-up.