German Navy Chief Resigns Over ‘Ill-Considered’ Ukraine Comments

The head of the German navy resigned on Jan. 22 after the comments he made over Ukraine sparked controversy.

“My rash remarks in India… are increasingly putting a strain on my office. I consider this step (the resignation) necessary to avert further damage to the German navy, the German forces, and, in particular, the Federal Republic of Germany,” Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach announced.

During a think tank event in India on Jan. 21, Schönbach said that the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, “is gone and will never come back” to Ukraine.

Schönbach also said that the idea that Russia wanted to invade Ukraine was nonsense and that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted respect and to be treated as an equal by the West.

Schönbach added that it was important to have Russia on the same side against China.

Following his comments, Schönbach came under fire from Ukraine and Germany.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter that Schönbach’s remarks were “disappointing and run counter” to Germany’s diplomatic efforts to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict.

“German partners must stop such words and actions to undermine unity and encourage Vladimir Putin to a new attack on Ukraine,” Kuleba said.

On Twitter, Schönbach said that his remarks were “a clear mistake.”

“Carelessly misjudged the situation, I shouldn’t have done it like that,” Schönbach said.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht appointed Schönbach’s deputy as interim naval chief.

Unlike the United Kingdom and the United States, Germany has refused Ukraine’s request for ammunition, arguing that it does not want to inflame tensions further. Instead, it offered to send a field hospital.

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