Conflict with Russia: German Navy chief causes a stir

As of: 01/22/2022 6:21 p.m

NATO and the German government fear a war in the middle of Europe because of the Russian troop deployment. In the midst of the conflict, the German navy chief, Schönbach, caused a great deal of anger with statements about Russia.

By Kai Küstner, ARD Capital Studio

“There is nothing to interpret, that was a clear mistake.” With this Twitter message, the German Navy chief tried to keep the damage within limits. But by then it was already too late.

Kai Küstner
ARD Capital Studio

And the statements by Kay-Achim Schönbach, some of which blatantly go against the line of the federal government, had already caused a sensation on social media: “Is Russia really interested in a small piece of Ukrainian soil?” asked the vice admiral, pretending to be himself the answer: “No, that’s nonsense.”

NATO and the federal government consider the danger of war in Europe to be very real. Schoenbach speculates that Russian President Vladimir Putin has no interest in an attack, but only really wants one thing: “respect”. It’s easy to show Putin the respect he demands and “probably deserves,” said the chief of the navy at an appearance in India. According to Schönbach, he would like to see Russia as a partner on the German side against China, if only because as a “radical Roman Catholic Christian” he prefers a Christian country as a partner.

Schönbach for the report

The problem with these statements: they completely undermine the attempts of the federal government to find a clear and unified line towards Moscow. Especially since the high-ranking military went one better: “The Crimean peninsula is gone. It will never come back.” It didn’t help Admiral Schönbach that he said his scandalous sentences in distant New Delhi in a talk show at a think tank: Then the highest-ranking soldier in Germany, the inspector general, asked him for a conversation like that ARD Capital Studio has been confirmed.

The process comes at a time when the right degree of severity in dealing with Russia is still being debated within German politics. “Constantly new threats and ever tougher sanctions” alone could not be the solution, warned CSU boss Markus Söder and spoke in an interview with the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” for the commissioning of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The Union recently criticized the course of the Social Democrats, which the CDU believes is too ambiguous.

“There’s a threat of war in the middle of Europe. And it’s now about using all channels to avert this war,” said SPD party leader Lars Klingbeil. And when asked specifically whether stopping the pipeline was an option as a sanctions instrument, he confirmed: Chancellor Olaf Scholz had said that all options were on the table. “And when all the options are on the table, there are few or none that are wrong. I don’t think this statement can be surpassed in terms of clarity.”

No arms deliveries from Germany

It almost seems as if the Bavarian Prime Minister would prefer a more understanding attitude towards Putin than the SPD these days: Söder does not see Ukraine in NATO in the long term. He described Russia as a “great power” and “not an enemy of Europe”.

Söder and the federal government are on the same line in their rejection of arms deliveries to Ukraine: In view of the tense situation, they are “currently not helpful”, explained Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht in the “Welt am Sonntag”. The SPD politician promised Kiev the delivery of a complete field hospital for February.

Several NATO countries, including Great Britain, are supplying arms to Ukraine. Union parliamentary group leader Johann Wadephul criticized the federal government’s position on arms deliveries to Ukraine for self-defense as becoming “more and more abstruse and confusing”.

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