German navy chief quits for saying Putin wants ‘respect’ and giving it to him would be ‘at low cost’
Last night the head of the German navy resigned for saying Putin wanted ‘respect’ and giving it to him would be ‘at low cost’ after the nation was condemned for refusing to supply weapons to Kiev.
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.
Mr Schoenbach said of the Russian president: ‘It’s easy to give him the respect he wants and probably also deserves.’ He also said that Germany should associate with Russia because it is a Christian country.
The vice admiral’s comments were caught on video and sparked anger in Ukraine, with the foreign ministry summoning German ambassador Anka Feldhusen to complain. This was to underscore the “categorical unacceptability” of Mr Schoenbach’s comments in which he also called Russian plans to invade Ukraine “inane”, the Foreign Office said.
Later, Mr. Schoenbach announced his resignation. “I have asked Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht to relieve me of my duties with immediate effect,” Vice Admiral Schoenbach said in a statement.
The German navy confirmed in a statement that Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht had accepted Mr Schoenbach’s resignation and appointed his deputy as acting navy chief. Mr Schoenbach apologized for his “reckless comments” on Friday, posted on YouTube and widely reported in German media.
A defense ministry spokesman in Berlin said the admiral’s words did not reflect the country’s position on the Ukraine crisis. The statement added that the admiral will be called to speak to the chief of defense on Monday.
Speaking at an event in India on Friday, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schoenbach (pictured right) said Ukraine would not regain the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.
It comes as the German government has insisted it remains united with its NATO allies on the issue of Russia’s military threat to Ukraine, warning that Moscow will pay a high price if it undertakes military action against its 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.
Germany has also blocked its NATO ally Estonia from supplying arms to Ukraine, according to the Telegraph.
This despite the fact that the United States and Washington have approved Baltic deliveries of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Kiev.
This has led some to accuse Germany of failing to stand up to Putin as tension mounts on the Russia-Europe border.
Mr Schoenbach (pictured) said of the Russian president: ‘It’s easy to give him the respect he wants and probably also deserves’
Mr Schoenbach’s resignation comes after the first part of a $200m (£145m) US security package arrived for Ukraine and the country faces the threat of invasion by at least 100,000 Russian troops on its borders.
But Germany denied the Estonian government permission to send D-30 howitzers to Ukraine, citing a veto that was a condition of exporting arms from Germany.
Berlin’s rejection, unlike Washington and London, angered Ukrainian ministers.
There are fears that Germany’s reluctance to supply weapons could harm NATO’s efforts to protect the country from Russian invasion.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Berlin on Saturday of “encouraging Vladimir Putin”.
Putin has denied plans to invade Ukraine.
Kuleba said German statements about difficulties in supplying defense weapons to Ukraine were not in line with the current security situation.
And he said the West’s unity against Moscow was “more important than ever”.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Berlin on Saturday of “encouraging Vladimir Putin”. Putin (pictured) denied plans to invade Ukraine
Meanwhile, Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister, said Germany was “hesitant” to deliver arms to the country and said he hoped the country would change its mind.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said yesterday that Berlin would send a field hospital to Ukraine, but again confirmed that the country would not send them weapons.
Ms Lambrecht said: ‘Arms deliveries would not be useful at the moment – that is the consensus in government.’
For a long time, the consensus in Germany has been not to export arms to conflict zones.
This policy is part of the country’s attempts to repair its role in World War II.
Despite Russia’s insistence that it has no intention of invading Ukraine, it has imposed a series of security requirements.
This includes a ban on Ukraine joining NATO in return for de-escalation.
Meanwhile, Oleksii Reznikov (pictured), Ukraine’s defense minister, said Germany was “hesitant” to deliver arms to the country and said he hoped the country would change its mind.
Members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the armed forces, train in a city park in Kyviv, Ukraine (pictured) yesterday amid fears of a Russian invasion
It comes after the UK sent arms and troops to Ukraine earlier this week, a move the country is grateful for.
A senior Ukrainian MP said the UK support was “effective and timely”. He said he was disappointed that Germany had chosen to block arms deliveries.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Serhii Rakhmanin, a member of the Ukrainian parliament’s defense committee, said: “For me personally, unfortunately, the German position was painful. As we know, Germany tells us that it is a reliable partner, but Germany does not act like that.
The MP also believes that the country would benefit from more British arms deliveries.
These include anti-aircraft systems and anti-aircraft missiles, radio tracking systems, electronic warfare and heavy weapons.
If Russia invades, Ukraine may have to resort to guerrilla tactics, according to former defense minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk.
This means that rapid deliveries of small arms by Western allies are crucial.
If Russia invades, Ukraine may have to resort to guerrilla tactics, according to former defense minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk. Pictured: Civilian participants train on a Kyviv Territorial Defense Unit train in a forest yesterday amid the Ukraine and Russia crisis
Referring to the 2,000 anti-tank missile launchers and training of the British Army’s Ranger regiment, he said the UK was ‘very quick to act’ and that is what Ukraine needs .
He said the country needed a guerrilla-like tactic where the armed forces work in small groups.
This week, the close talks between Washington and Moscow on the situation in Ukraine did not find an agreement.
However, there are expected to be more talks between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany in Paris on Tuesday.
It is hoped that the talks will end the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.
A source told The Telegraph yesterday that Russia’s chief negotiator, Dmitry Kozak, would take part in the talks from the Russian side.
Further talks are expected to take place in Paris on Tuesday between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany. Pictured: A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea on January 18
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania send US-made anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said it reflected “longstanding support for Ukraine”.
He then added on Twitter: “I have expedited and authorized and we fully endorse the transfers of defensive equipment that NATO Allies are providing to Ukraine to enhance its ability to defend against unprovoked aggression and irresponsible of Russia”.
But earlier this week, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, said Western arms supplies to Ukraine were “extremely dangerous” and did not reduce tensions.
In Ukraine, many members of the public are worried about the potential threat from Russia and hope that NATO and the EU will come to the country’s aid in the worst-case scenario.
Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State (pictured) said on Twitter: ‘I have expedited and authorized and we fully endorse the transfers of defensive equipment NATO Allies are providing to Ukraine to enhance its capability to defend against unprovoked and irresponsible Russian aggression”