Political storm in Berlin: German Navy chief calls Delhi comments on Putin ‘mistake’

Written By: Sidhant Sibal WION
New Delhi Updated: Jan 22, 2022, 09:29 PM(IST)

Vice-Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach Photograph:( WION )

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The navy chief’s response came hours after the German Defence ministry distanced itself from his comments

The German Navy chief, Vice-Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, withdrew his comments where he called for rapprochement with Russian President Putin amid the Ukraine crisis, terming it as a “mistake”.

Speaking at a think tank in New Delhi on Friday, he said, "Does Russia really wants small and tiny strip of Ukraine soil, integrate the country. No, this is nonsense. Putin is probably putting pressure because he knows he can do it, and he splits EU opinion. What he really wants is respect. "

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His comments went against the present narrative coming from Europe amid the deteriorating situation in Eastern Europe and the build-up of the Russian troops at the border with Ukraine.

Also read | In Delhi, German Navy chief bats for good ties with Russia to rein in China, says Ukraine can't be NATO member

The navy chief’s response came hours after the German Defence ministry distanced itself from his comments.

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Issuing a statement to German newspaper BILD, the ministry said, “In terms of content and choice of words, the statements in no way correspond to the position of the Defence ministry. Admiral Schönbach is given the opportunity to make a statement to the Inspector General.”

The German Navy chief was delivering a talk on ‘Germany’s Indo-Pacific Strategy’ at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi.

He explained that good ties are needed with Russia to rein in China and added that Ukraine can’t be a NATO member.

“Even we India, Germany we need Russia. We need Russia against China...Having this big country, even if it's not a democracy, as a bilateral partner, gives them a chance. It's easy and keeps Russia away from China because China needs resources of Russia.”

Admiral Schönbach further said that Russia doesn't want NATO to reach its borders, with countries like Ukraine joining it.

It wants "security guarantees" from the west and the NATO that Ukraine doesn't join the security block, he said.

Numerous talks have taken place this month between Russia and US, but it hasn't yielded any results.

The comments in Delhi come even as the German Navy chief visit was aimed to show Berlin's increased engagement in the Indo-Pacific, but ended up with a diplomatic crisis in Berlin with sharp reactions seen back home in Germany.

The visit of the German Navy chief also coincides with the visit of German frigate “Bayern” making a port call in Mumbai, as part of its seven-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific region.

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