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Following controversial statements on the Ukraine conflict during a conference in India, Admiral Schönbach is stepping down as Chief of the German Navy. He announced that Defence Minister Lambrecht had accepted his request. Schönbach justified his decision by saying that he wanted to avert damage.

At the event in India, Schönbach had stated, among other things: “The Crimean peninsula is gone, it will not come back”. He described the possible invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops as “nonsense”. What Russia’s President Vladimir Putin really wanted was “respect at eye level”, he said. “It’s easy to give him the respect he wants – and probably deserves.”

Schönbach is now to be replaced on an interim basis by Rear Admiral Jan Christian Kaack.