Friday, September 30, 2022

German Navy chief resigns after backlash over comments on Russia, Ukraine

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The head of the German navy, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schonbach has decided to step down from his position after his controversial comments on Crimea and Russian President Vladimir Putin, made during his India visit, resulted in a severe backlash at home in Berlin. Speaking at a New Delhi-based think tank, the German Navy chief had said, “Putin probably deserved respect.” He also said that Crimea would never return to Ukraine despite Kiev’s attempts to put pressure on Moscow. The German navy chief said Russia’s actions in Ukraine needed to be addressed, however, he added that “the Crimea Peninsula is gone: It will never come back.”

Reacting to Schonbach’s controversial remarks, the German Defense Ministry had earlier condemned the statements by the head of the German navy. “The statements in terms of content and choice of words in no way correspond to the position of the Federal Ministry of Defence,” dpa quoted the ministry’s statement.

Schonbach also took to Twitter to say that his statements were a mistake and that he misjudged the situation.
This controversy comes at a time when the West and Ukraine have accused Russia of amassing troops near the Ukrainian border in alleged preparation for an invasion, Sputnik reported. Russia is saying it has no intention of invading Ukraine while stressing that it has the right to move forces within its own territory.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Ambassador to Berlin Andriy Melnyk welcomed the resignation on Sunday. Tensions between Ukraine and Russia have increased with Russian troop build-up near the two nations’ borders spurring fears that Moscow could launch an invasion. On Saturday, Schonbach requested to be relieved of his post after the controversial statement. According to the vice-admiral, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht accepted his request, it reported. “We welcome Schonbach’s resignation,” Melnyk told the German newspaper Welt. The ambassador also stressed that Schonbach’s statement “calls into question Germany’s international standing and credibility, not only from the Ukrainian point of view.”

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