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German Navy police chief resigns after suggesting Putin ‘deserves respect’

Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach said he had asked German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht to reduce the mandate “with immediate effect.” His resignation on Saturday comes at a time extreme stress between Russia and the West over Russia’s recent military build-up on the Ukrainian border.

Schönbach was angered by a number of remarks, including the suggestion that Russian President Vladimir Putin “probably” deserves respect.

A video of his talk at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, a think tank, was posted on YouTube on Friday. In it, the Vice-Admiral is heard: “Is Russia really interested in … a small, tiny strip of Ukraine? No, this is nonsense.”

“What he really wants is respect. And my God, respecting someone is low cost, even inexpensive… so if I were asked, it’s very easy to give it to him. the respect he really asks for, and probably deserves,” he said, adding: “Russia is an old country. Russia is an important country. Even we, India, Germany, we also need Russia, because we need Russia against China.”

The remarks prompted criticism in Germany and abroad. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister summoned the German Ambassador to Ukraine over the comments, saying they “strongly reject” Schönbach’s claim that Crimea never returned to Ukraine.

Schönbach said that the comments he made during the talk reflected his personal views “at that time” and that “they do not correspond to the official position of the Ministry of Defense.”

UK Foreign Office says Kremlin is planning to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine

However, he said the comments were “increasingly weighing on my office” and he therefore decided to step down.

Schönbach took over as Chief of the Navy, officially known as the Inspector of the Navy, last March, after more than 35 years in the navy. He served as the commanding officer of NATO Maritime Group 2, NATO’s maritime direct response force.

Meanwhile, as Russia piled up troops on the Ukrainian border, the Ukrainian government asked NATO countries for help. While the US, UK and some other NATO countries weapon transport As for Ukraine, Germany has so far refused to do so.

Earlier this week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told journalists that Germany usually restricts arms exports to crisis zones.

“Germany has a special tradition of showing extreme restraint when it comes to exporting arms and weapons to crisis areas,” she said. “We tried to take on the responsibility in different ways. For example, we helped expand the military hospital.”

CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London and Darya Tarasova in Moscow contributed reporting.

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