German navy chief resigns after controversial comments on Ukraine

A spokesman for the German Defense Ministry announced on Saturday evening that the commander of the German Navy, Kai Achim Schönbach, has resigned from his post after controversial statements about the crisis in Ukraine.

• Read also: Ukraine: Kiev accuses Germany of “encouraging Putin”

The vice admiral, who, among other things, described the idea that Russia wants to invade Ukraine, will leave his post “with immediate effect,” the spokesperson specified to AFP.

What Vladimir Putin wants, “is his respect,” the soldier said, according to a video circulated on the Web, which was filmed during a think tank meeting held Friday in New Delhi.

“It’s easy to give him the respect he wants and maybe he deserves too,” he added. The idea that Russia wants to invade part of Ukraine would be, he said, “nonsense.”

He also felt that Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, “is gone and will not return” to Ukraine.

This senior officer had pleaded guilty in the afternoon, describing his statements as “reckless”. “No harassment: it was clearly a mistake,” he wrote in a tweet.

But he made it clear in a press statement issued in the evening that he submitted his resignation in order to “avoid additional damage to the German Navy, especially the Federal Republic of Germany.”

In the afternoon, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry summoned the German ambassador, Anka Feldusen, after these statements, which Kiev considered “totally unacceptable.”

The Vice Admiral’s comments came in the midst of a Russian-Western crisis over Ukraine.

Intense diplomatic efforts are being made on both sides to prevent the situation from deteriorating, while tens of thousands of Russian soldiers are still massed on the Ukrainian border.

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