German navy chief Kay-Achim Schönbach steps down after his comments on Putin and Ukraine in New Delhi

This controversy comes at a time when the West and Ukraine have accused Russia of amassing troops near the Ukrainian border in alleged preparation for an invasion.

Following an unprecedented controversy in Germany and a diplomatic incident with Ukraine, German Navy Chief Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach tended his resignation late on Saturday over his comments in New Delhi that Ukraine can never get back Crimea and Russian President Vladimir Putin “probably” deserved respect.

Schoenbach said the idea that Russia wanted to invade Ukraine was “nonsense”, adding that Putin deserved respect, in comments at a think-tank meeting in New Delhi on Friday.

The vice-admiral would leave his post “with immediate effect” the spokesman told AFP.

“My position is increasingly burdened by the ill-advised comments on security and military policy that I made in India,” Schoenbach said in a statement released by the German navy. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has accepted his resignation, he said.

The German Defence Ministry was quick to disown the comments. German newspaper BILD, quoting the German Defence Ministry said, “In terms of content and choice of words, the statements in no way correspond to the position of the Defense ministry. Admiral Schönbach is given the opportunity to make a statement to the Inspector General”

The comments, recorded this week during a talk by Schoenbach at a New Delhi-based think tank, created an awkward diversion as the U.S. and Europe respond to the Ukraine standoff after Putin massed an estimated 100,000 troops on the border.

The latest U.S.-Russian talks ended inconclusively this week. Aides to the Ukrainian, Russian, German and French leaders will probably meet on Wednesday in Paris, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, said by text message.

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