German navy chief quits after contentious Crimea statements

24 January 2022, 01:42 PM

The Head of the German Navy, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, has resigned after making a controversial statement during a visit to India on Jan. 21, first reported by German newspaper Bild.

Schonbach attended a live-streamed talk at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, a think tank in New Delhi’s and said that "the Crimea Peninsula is gone: It will never come back — this is a fact.”

Schönbach also added that the idea that Russia would invade Ukraine was “nonsense” and all Putin wanted was “respect,”, and that there would be “no cost” in giving the Russian dictator what he “probably also deserves.”

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The words sparked immediate condemnation from Ukraine, with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba calling Schönbach’s statement “disappointing and undermining support for Ukraine.”

Ukraine summoned the German ambassador in Kyiv to lodge a formal complaint over Schönbach’s comments about the situation, and Ukraine’s Ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, noted that Schönbach’s words called Germany's trustworthiness as a partner of Ukraine into question.

Schönbach resigned the next day, after making an apology on Twitter.

The German government insisted that Schönbach’s comments in no way reflected the official stance of the German Ministry of Defense.

Germany continues to block NATO arms sales to Ukraine, with the German government on Jan. 22 vetoing a sale of German-made arms from Estonia to the country.

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