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German navy chief quits after controversial pro-Putin remarks

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German navy chief quits after controversial pro-Putin remarks

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The head of the German navy is stepping down following controversial comments favorable to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I have asked Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht to relieve me of my duties with immediate effect,” Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schoenbach said in a statement. according to Reuters. “The minister accepted my request.”

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MOSCOW, RUSSIA – DECEMBER 23: (RUSSIA OUT): Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference at the Moscow Manege on December 23, 2021 in Moscow, Russia. More than 500 journalists were invited to Vladimir Putin’s year-end marathon press conference. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Schoenbach had come under fire for remarks made during a think tank discussion in India on Friday where he suggested Putin deserved respect.

“What he (Putin) really wants is respect,” Schoenbach said. “And my God, giving someone respect comes at little to no cost… It’s easy to give them the respect they really want – and probably deserve too.”

Schoenbach added that he thought Ukraine’s NATO membership was not a “smart” idea.

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“My thoughtless remarks in India… are increasingly straining my office,” Schoenbach added in his resignation statement. “I consider this step (the resignation) necessary to prevent further damage to the German Navy, to the German forces and, in particular, to the Federal Republic of Germany.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had expressed dismay at Schoenbach’s comments in a series of tweets expressing “deep disappointment”.

German navy chief quits after controversial pro-Putin remarks

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Members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have joined army reserves Ukraine in recent weeks amid fears of a Russian invasion. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

“German partners should stop undermining unity and encouraging Vladimir Putin to another attack on Ukraine with such words and deeds,” Kuleba said in one of the tweets.

The United States and NATO remain in a diplomatic stalemate with Russia because the Kremlin has not yet taken steps to dismantle its 100,000 soldiers Ukraine frontier.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Friday that he made it clear to Russian Foreign Minister Sergie Lavrov that Russia had a choice when it came to avoiding conflict with the United States and Russia. NATO.

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“You can choose the path of diplomacy that can lead to peace and security or the path that will only lead to conflict, grave consequences and international condemnation,” Blinken said.

German navy chief quits after controversial pro-Putin remarks

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In this photo released by the Russian Foreign Ministry’s press service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gestures during a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock following their talks in Moscow, Russia on Tuesday, January 18, 2022.
(Russian Foreign Ministry press service via AP)

The United States and its Western allies have called on the Kremlin to abandon its aggressive stance along the Ukrainian border or face a severe economic backlash.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has in turn formulated his own demands, demanding guarantees that Kiev will be excluded from NATO and that no strategic weapons will be placed in Ukraine.

Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report

German navy chief quits after controversial pro-Putin remarks

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