The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has described the remarks by German Navy Commander Kay-Achim Schönbach that Ukraine has lost temporarily occupied Crimea as categorically unacceptable and demanded that they be publicly refuted.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said this in a comment to Ukrinform.
“The Crimean peninsula can be lost only in the imagination of the German vice admiral. Crimea will certainly return [to Ukraine] thanks to the persistent efforts of Ukraine and its partners who will show their determination in countering the aggressor state. In this regard, we need clarification from the German government on how the words of the Navy commander correlate with Germany’s consistent support the Crimea Platform,” Nikolenko said.
He added that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry was “especially surprised to hear Mr. Schönbach’s sentiments about the need to resume dialogue with Russia.” In this context, Nikolenko stressed that this statement comes at a time when the number of victims of Russian aggression has already exceeded 14,000, more than 100,000 Russian troops had been deployed along the Ukrainian border, people continue to die from Russian bullets in the Donbas, and Crimea has become a human rights ghetto.
Nikolenko also drew attention to the fact that in Germany, Russian special services are destroying political opponents, conducting disinformation campaigns and trying to interfere in the country’s internal affairs.
“Even an attempt by the German Navy commander to understand Putin must have its moral, political and security limits. In this case, these limits have been grossly violated. We demand that the German government publicly refute statements by the Navy commander, which undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and undermine efforts to de-escalate the security situation in Europe,” Nikolenko said.
Schönbach said at a conference of the Indian Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses that Ukraine had lost Crimea and that the peninsula would never return to Ukraine. He also believes that Russia is an important country with which it is necessary to maintain dialogue.
German navy chief Schönbach resigns over comments on Putin, Crimea
Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach stepped down as the head of the German navy after publicly saying Crimea was lost to Ukraine and that Vladimir Putin “probably” deserved respect.
On Saturday, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said it has summoned German Ambassador Anka Feldhusen to stress “the categorical unacceptability” of Schönbach’s comments.
Schönbach apologizes on Twitter
The navy chief’s comments come as Russia has gathered tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s borders, raising fears that an invasion could be in the works. Russia has denied any planned aggression against Ukraine.
The German government made no official statement, although it distanced itself from Schönbach’s comments on Saturday.
“The content and choice of words of the statements in no way correspond to the position of the Federal Ministry of Defense,” a German Defense Ministry spokesman told public broadcaster ZDF.
Schönbach must now explain himself to his superior, Inspector General Eberhard Zorn, the ministry said. Additionally, Germany’s ruling coalition will discuss the navy chief’s statements on Monday, ZDF reported.
For his part, Schönbach issued an apology on his Twitter account. “There is no need to quibble: it was clearly a mistake,” he tweeted.