Tuesday, June 6

The head of the German Navy resigns over statements favorable to Russia

Correspondent in Berlin



The German government has forced the resignation of the head of the Navy, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, whose statements had caused outrage and they had led the Ukrainian government to summon the German ambassador Anka Feldhusen. One of the Bundeswehr’s top military officers had commented at a think tank event in Delhi, India, that Russia’s alleged plans to occupy parts of Ukraine were “nonsense” and that what President Putin really wants is “respect at eye level.”

He added that showing respect to someone like Putin “it costs almost nothing, it costs nothing”, that “it probably even deserves it”, and that the current sanctions imposed by the West on Russia go “in the wrong direction” and that it was necessary to cooperate with Russia, “which as a Christian country Germany should have on its side against China.”

These words, possibly recorded without his consent, were described as “unacceptable” by the Kiev government, in addition to contradicting the official position of the German government. Under pressure from the Defense Ministry, first apologized on Twitter (“I shouldn’t have done it rashly, I misjudged the situation”) and has ended up resigning, according to a statement.

“I have just asked the Minister of Defense for my immediate suspension of my duties and obligations as Navy Inspector,” were his words. And on the possible discrepancy between the assessment made by the high command of the German army and the ministers of the Schoz government, he has avoided entering into controversy and has limited himself to saying that “there is nothing to discuss, it was a clear mistake of mine.”

Ukrainian ‘disappointment’

“We are pleased that Mr Schönbach has tendered his resignation, but the scandal leaves a wreck in bilateral relations and calls into question international credibility and confidence in Germany”, said Ambassador Feldhusen, who considers that this gesture “is not enough” to restore confidence. Ukraine is “disappointed” by the position of the German government, which not only refuses to sell weapons to Kiev but also does not allow weapons arriving in Ukraine from the United Kingdom to fly over its airspace during transport. “We are a nation that has been under attack since 2014 and all we want is to be in a position to defend ourselves and avoid a major conflict,” the ambassador justified her anger.

The head of US diplomacy, Anthony Blinken, however, has assured that he has “no doubt” about the determination of Germany against Russia. “I can say that the Germans fully share our concerns and are resolute and determined to respond quickly, effectively and present a united front in the event that Russia advances,” he said.

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