Commander-in-Chief of the Ger-man Navy, Vice A-dmiral Kai-Achim Schön-bach, was forced to resign after saying that Crimea would never return to Ukraine and that Russian President Vladimir Putin deserved respect. His words were condemned in the Ministry of Defense and the Foreign Ministry of Germany. In Russia, the incident was treated with sympathy.
“Gone, he’ll never come back”
“Does Russia really want a small piece of Ukrainian land? Or annex the whole country? No, this is nonsense. Putin is probably applying pressure because he knows he can do it and it’s splitting the EU, but what he really wants is a high level of respect. Giving him respect is a small price to pay. It’s not a price at all. It’s easy to give him the respect he possibly deserves,” said Vice Admiral Schoenbach, speaking at a conference of the Indian Institute of Defense Studies Manohar Parrikar, commenting on the situation in Ukraine.
According to him, Russia is important for India and Germany to confront China. “Our sanctions are going in the wrong direction. Of course, we cannot agree with what is happening in Ukraine, we must deal with this issue. But the Crimean peninsula is gone, it will never return. This is a fact,” the Vice Admiral is convinced.
The German publication Der Spiegel published an article criticizing the words of the commander in chief. However, readers stood up for the military in the comments to the publication. According to many, Ukraine is “inflating” the situation around the Crimean peninsula in order to drag Germany into this conflict and stop Nord Stream 2.
“Those who believe that Russia will return Crimea also believe in Santa Claus. The Vice Admiral only says what everyone knows,” wrote a firmus reader.
Some Germans also agree that the Vice Admiral “simply said out loud what the majority thinks.”
“It was a clear mistake”
Spiegel also reported that Schönbach’s remarks caused discontent in the German Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to the publication, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht “urgently” spoke via video with Inspector General of the German Armed Forces Eberhard Zorn and a public relations consultant to discuss the vice admiral’s words.
The Ministry of Defense of the country also made an appeal. “The statements (of Vice Admiral Schönbach – Gazeta.Ru) in terms of content and choice of words in no way correspond to the position of the Federal Ministry of Defense,” the department’s press service told dpa .
The vice admiral himself wrote on his Twitter that he said about Putin and Cri-mea “carelessly, incorrectly assessing the situation.”
“I shouldn’t have done this. There is no doubt that this was a clear mistake. My security policy statements at a think tank in India expressed my personal opinion… They do not correspond in any way to the official position of the Bundeswehr,” Schönbach wrote.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry also reacted to the statements of the German Vice Admiral. They are convinced that “Crimea will certainly return thanks to the persistent efforts” of Kiev and its partners, who “will show determination in countering the aggressor state.”
“The Crimean peninsula can only be lost in the imagination of the German Vice Admiral… In this regard, we demand clarification from the German government how the words of the Navy Commander correlate with Germany’s consistent support for the Crimean Platform.
<…>Even an attempt to understand Putin by the commander of the German Navy must have its moral, political and dangerous limits. In this case, these borders have been grossly violated,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement .
Due to the violent reaction of Ukrainian and German officials, Schönbach had to urgently resign.
“I have just asked the federal secretary of defense to immediately release me from my duties and duties as an inspector of the navy. The mindless comments I made in India on security and military policy issues are increasingly being blamed on my office. To prevent further damage from the German Navy, the Bundeswehr, but above all from the Federal Republic of Germany, I consider this step necessary, ”Pressep-ortal quoted him as saying.
His resignation was granted.
Schönbach’s dismissal garnered the approval of the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk . “We welcome that Schönbach has resigned,” he told German newspaper Welt.
He also stressed that what happened “seriously calls into question the international authority and reliability of Germany – not only from the Ukrainian point of view.” According to Melnyk, Schönbach’s words “plunged the entire Ukrainian public into a deep shock.”
In Russia, the fate of the German vice-admiral aroused only sympathy. In an interview with RIA Novosti, State Duma deputy from the Crimean region Mikhail Sheremet said that after so much time after the referendum in 2014 in the West, finally, “sanity woke up.”
“I am sure that the Europeans will recognize the territory of Crimea as Russian. But that’s not what matters. The important thing is that the Crimeans consider themselves citizens of Russia and that Russia considers Crimea an integral part of itself. Crimea has always been, is and will be Russian. And let those who are trying to use Crimea to impose sanctions and put pressure on Russia will kill it on their noses,” the parliamentarian stressed.
In turn, Senator Alexei Pushkov wrote in his Telegram that Schönbach’s statements are an example of “unacceptable” thinking for a general or a “correct” politician from a NATO country .
“Not only to talk like that, it’s even forbidden to think like that. Where better to talk nonsense about the “great history” of Ukraine, which supposedly fought back from the Mongols, then from the Tatars, then God knows who else … This is what Western politics can carry – and it is even encouraged. What is needed is not an assessment of reality, but an ideological dogma; what is needed is not a sound analysis, but service to the line of the global “liberal party”.
The vice admiral went beyond this invisible but hard “red line”. He paid the price for this, ”the senator ironically remarked.