German navy chief resigns over Ukraine comments

The head of the German navy has resigned after being criticized at home and abroad for his comments on Ukraine and Russia.

Speaking at an event in India on Friday, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schoenbach said Ukraine would not regain the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

He also said it was important to have Russia on the same side against China and suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin deserved “respect”.

His remarks, captured on video, angered Ukraine, which called on the German ambassador to complain. They also drew consternation and a swift rebuke in Berlin.

Members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces conduct drills (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

On Saturday evening, Mr Schoenbach had called for his dismissal, saying he wanted to avoid further damage to Germany and its military resulting from his “rash statements”.

In a statement, the German navy said Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht had accepted Mr Schoenbach’s resignation and appointed his deputy as acting navy chief.

The German government has insisted it is united with its NATO allies on the issue of Russia’s military threat against Ukraine, warning that Moscow will pay a high price if it takes military action against it. his neighbour.

But unlike many other NATO countries, Berlin said it would not supply Ukraine with lethal weapons, arguing it did not want to further inflame tensions.

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