Jan 23, 2022 - World

German navy chief resigns after suggesting Putin deserves respect

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht is welcomed by vice-admiral Kay-Achim Schoenbach

German defence minister Christine Lambrecht (left) welcomes Vice-Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach during a visit to the Naval Base Warnemuende in December. Photo: Bernd Wüstneck-Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The chief of the German Navy resigned Saturday after he came under fire for suggesting that Crimea would "never come back" to Ukraine and that Russian President Vladimir Putin deserved respect, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Vice-Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach's resignation comes as Ukraine and the West brace for the possibility of an imminent Russian invasion after Russia positioned nearly 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border last month.

Schönbach said during a talk at a think tank in India on Friday that what Putin "really wants is respect," adding that "giving someone respect is low cost, even no cost."

  • The defense ministry openly criticized Schönbach's remarks, suggesting they did not reflect Germany's position on the matter, according to Reuters.

What they're saying: "I have asked defence minister Christine Lambrecht to relieve me from my duties with immediate effect," Schönbach said in a statement, per Reuters.

  • "My rash remarks in India ... are increasingly putting a strain on my office," he continued. "I consider this step necessary to avert further damage to the German Navy."
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