Europe and the United States are trying to show a united front against Russia in the current crisis surrounding possible aggression by Moscow against Ukraine. The resignation on Saturday of the head of the German Navy, who showed understanding for the Russian president’s policies, has added to the tensions between Berlin and Kiev. The affair has diplomatic consequences as Ukraine blames Germany for insufficient support.
German Navy Commander Vice Admiral Kai-Achim Schönbach has resigned after being criticized for saying that Vladimir Putin wants respect and Kiev will never regain the Crimean peninsula annexed by Moscow, world news agencies reported.
What Putin wants is “to be respected,” The head of the German Navy said in a video released on the Internet, which was filmed at a meeting of an analysis group in Delhi on Friday. “It’s easy to give him the respect he wants and probably deserves,” Schönbach added. He also described as nonsense the idea that Russia wanted to invade Ukraine.
He made it clear that he was expressing in part his personal opinion but it is curious that such an experienced soldier, on a professional mission in the region and in uniform, should make such statements on camera.
In the afternoon, the Vice Admiral apologized, calling his remarks ill-considered.
“It was obviously a mistake,” he added on Twitter. But in a statement later that evening, he explained that he had resigned “so as not to cause further damage to the German navy and especially to the Federal Republic of Germany”.
The German ambassador to Kiev was summoned to the foreign ministry over the general’s statement, which Ukrainian authorities described as “completely unacceptable”.