German navy chief resigns for saying Putin wants ‘respect’ and giving it to him would be ‘low cost’ after nation was condemned for refusing to supply weapons to Kiev
The head of the German navy yesterday night resigned for saying Putin wants ‘respect’ and giving it to him would be ‘low cost’ after the nation was condemned for refusing to supply weapons to Kiev.
Mr Schoenbach said of Russia’s president: ‘It’s easy to give him the respect he wants, and probably deserves as well.’ He also said Germany should partner with Russia as it is a Christian country.
The Vice Admiral’s comments were captured on video and caused anger in Ukraine with the foreign ministry summoning the German ambassador Anka Feldhusen to complain. This was to stress ‘the categorical unacceptability’ of the comments by Mr Schoenbach in which he also called Russian plans to invade Ukraine ‘inept’, the foreign ministry said.
Later, Mr Schoenbach announced his resignation. ‘I have asked Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht to relieve me from my duties with immediate effect,’ vice-admiral Schoenbach said in a statement.
The German navy confirmed in a statement that Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht had accepted Mr Schoenbach’s resignation and appointed his deputy as interim naval chief. Mr Schoenbach apologised for his ‘rash comments’ made on Friday which were posted on YouTube and have been largely circulated on German media.
A spokesman for the Defence Ministry in Berlin said that the Admiral’s words were not reflective of the country’s own position on the Ukraine crisis. The statement added that the admiral would be called to speak to the chief of defence 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 that it stands 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 makes any military moves against its neighbour.
But unlike many other Nato countries, Berlin said it will not supply Ukraine with lethal weapons, arguing that it does not want to inflame tensions further.
Germany has also blocked their Nato ally Estonia from supplying arms to Ukraine, according to the Telegraph.
This is despite the US and Washington endorsing Baltic shipments of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Kyiv.
It has led some to accuse Germany of failing to stand up to Putin as tension on Russia’s border with Europe mounts.
Mr Schoenbach (pictured) said of Russia’s president: ‘It’s easy to give him the respect he wants, and probably deserves as well’
Mr Schoenbach’s resignation comes after the first portion of a $200 million (£145 million) US security package for Ukraine arrived and the country faces the threat of invasion by at least 100,000 Russian troops at its borders.
But Germany has refused permission for Estonia’s government to send D-30 howitzers into Ukraine, relying on a veto which was a condition of the weapons export from Germany.
Berlin’s rejection, in contrast to Washington and London, has irritated Ukranian ministers.
There are concerns that Germany’s reluctance to provide arms could damage Nato efforts to protect the country from Russian invasion.
The Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday accused Berlin of ‘encouraging Vladimir Putin’.
Putin has denied that he plans to invade Ukraine.
Mr Kuleba said that German statements about the difficulties of supplying defence weapons to Ukraine were not in line with the current security situation.
And he said that unity in the West when faced with Moscow was ‘more important than ever.’
The Ukranian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday accused Berlin of ‘encouraging Vladimir Putin’. Putin (pictured) has denied that he plans to invade Ukraine
Meanwhile, Oleksii Reznikov, the Ukranian defence minister, said that Germany are ‘hesitating’ to deliver arms to the country and said he hoped the country would change its mind.
The German defence minister Christine Lambrecht yesterday said that Berlin would send a field hospital to Ukraine but confirmed again that the country would not send weapons to them.
Ms Lambrecht said: ‘Weapons deliveries would not be helpful at the moment – that is the consensus within the government.’
It has long been the consensus in Germany to not export weapons to conflict zones.
This policy is part of attempts by the country to make amends for their role in the Second World War.
Despite Russia’s insistence that it has no plans to invade Ukraine, it has imposed a series of security demands.
This includes a ban on Ukraine joining Nato in exchange for de-escalation.
Meanwhile, Oleksii Reznikov (pictured) , the Ukranian defence minister, said that Germany are ‘hesitating’ to deliver arms to the country and said he hoped the country would change its mind
Members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defence Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyviv, Ukraine yesterday (pictured) amid fears about Russian invasion
It comes after the UK sent arms and troops to Ukraine earlier this week, a move which the country is grateful for.
A senior MP in Ukraine said that the British support was ‘effective and well-timed’. He said he was disappointed that Germany had chosen to block arms deliveries.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Serhii Rakhmanin, a member of the Ukranian parliament’s defence committee, said: ‘For me personally, sadly, the German position was sorrowful. As we know Germany tells us it is a reliable partner, but Germany does not act like this.’
The MP also believes that the country would benefit from more British arms shipments.
These include anti-aircraft systems and anti-aircraft missiles, radio location systems, electronic warfare and heavy weapons.
If Russia invades, Ukraine may have to resort to guerilla-style tactics, according to former defence minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk.
This means that fast deliveries of light weaponry by allies from the West are crucial.
If Russia invades, Ukraine may have to resort to guerilla-style tactics, according to former defence minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk. Pictured: Civilian participants train in a Kyviv Territorial Defence Unit train in a forest yesterday amid the Ukraine and Russia crisis
Referring to the 2,000 anti-tank missile launchers and training from the British Army’s Ranger Regiment he said the UK was ‘very quick to move’ and it is what Ukraine needs.
He said the country needs a tactic similar to guerrilla warfare where armed forces work in smaller groups.
This week, crunch talks between Washington and Moscow on the Ukraine situation did not find an agreement.
However, there are due 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 Ukranian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.
A source yesterday told the Telegraph that Russia’s chief negotiator Dmitry Kozak will take part in the talks on the Russian side.
There are due to be more talks between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany in Paris on Tuesday. Pictured: A convoy of Russian armoured vehicles moves along a motorway in the Crimea on January 18
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are sending US-made anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.
The US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, said this reflected ‘longstanding support to Ukraine.’
He later added on Twitter: ‘I expedited and authorized and we fully endorse transfers of defensive equipment @Nato Allies are providing to Ukraine to strengthen its ability to defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked and irresponsible aggression.
But earlier this week, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, said Western arms supplies to Ukraine are ‘extremely dangerous’ and they do not reduce tensions.
In Ukraine, many members of the public are weary about the potential threat of Russia and are hoping 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 expedited and authorized and we fully endorse transfers of defensive equipment @Nato Allies are providing to Ukraine to strengthen its ability to defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked and irresponsible aggression’