German navy chief resigns over Ukraine comments


The head of the German navy has resigned after coming under fire for comments he made over Ukraine and Russia.

Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schoenbach said Ukraine would not regain the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Speaking at an event in India on Friday, he also said it was important to have Russia on the same side against China, and suggested Russian president Vladimir Putin deserved “respect”.

His comments, captured on video, caused anger in Ukraine, which summoned the German ambassador to complain. They also sparked consternation and a swift rebuke back in Berlin.

By late Saturday, Mr Schoenbach had asked for his dismissal, saying he wanted to prevent further damage resulting to Germany and its military from his “ill-considered statements”.

In a statement, the German navy said defence minister Christine Lambrecht had accepted Mr Schoenbach’s resignation and appointed his deputy as interim naval chief.

The German government has insisted 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.

The British government has claimed Russia is seeking to install a regime of collaborators in Kyiv while Russian president Vladimir Putin makes a final decision on whether to invade Ukraine.

The suggestion of a plot, which London says is based on credible sources, comes at a highly volatile moment in the crisis.

Foreign minister Dominic Raab on Sunday warned Russia would face severe economic sanctions if it installed a “puppet regime” in Ukraine.

He told Sky News: “There’ll be very serious consequences if Russia takes this move to try and invade but also install a puppet regime.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press


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