German Naval Chief Steps Down After Pointing to China as Greater Security Threat Than Russia
The commanding officer of the German Navy, Kay-Achim Schönbach, announced his resignation on Saturday following a controversy from remarks at an Indian national security conference.
Schönbach had called for western nations to “respect” Vladimir Putin, pointing to the People’s Republic of China as a far greater threat to the interests of the west than the President of Russia.
The highest ranking officer in the German Navy had argued that Putin wants respect, no more, in the context of border disputes between Russia and Ukraine.
“And, my God, giving someone respect is low cost, even no cost. … It is easy to give him the respect he really demands — and probably also deserves,” said the Vice Admiral. Schönbach went on to call for the west to recognize Crimea as territory of Russia, following its annexation in 2014. His remarks were quickly met with harsh criticism from Ukraine’s foreign ministry, which summoned the German ambassador in Kiev, calling his words “categorically unacceptable.”
"Does Russia really wants a small tiny strip of Ukraine soil? Or integrate in the country, no this is nonsense..Putin is probably puting pressure, cz he knows he can do it & it splits the EU..but what he really wants is high level respect", says German Navy Chief in Delhi https://t.co/qDeqQp408X pic.twitter.com/MICZ0O7U78
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) January 21, 2022
In the same address, Schönbach spoke favorably of the prospect of Russia aligning with the west to counter the potential of a Chinese-controlled world, citing the latter’s Christian heritage.
"I am a very radical Roman Catholic. I’m believing in God & I believe in Christianity & there we have a Christian country even Putin, he’s an atheist but it doesn't matter. Having this big country on our side…", German Navy Chief in Delhi
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) January 22, 2022
The vice admiral submitted his resignation to Germany’s ministry of defense late on Saturday, with the German government clarifying that his “content and choice of words of the statements in no way correspond to the position of the Federal Ministry of Defense.” Schönbach went on to deliver a personal apology on his Twitter account, calling his remarks on the topic of NATO-Russia relations a “mistake.”
Germany has backed away from the prospect of NATO mobilizing to deter Russian invasion of Ukraine, with much of the public in the country sympathetic to arguments against western involvement in archaic border disputes.
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