Schönbach made the remarks about Russian and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a speech in India that was reported in the German press.
Putin needs to be understood, Schönbach said. And, oh, my God, it’s almost costly to respect someone. So if you ask me, it’s easy to show the respect he demands and probably deserves,” he said.
“Even we, Germany, India, need Russia because we need Russia against China,” Schönbach said, arguing that China is the biggest threat.
Schönbach explained that he is a devout Christian and Russia is a Christian country. Although this great country is not democratic, being with us as a bilateral partner can keep Russia away from China.”
“The Crimean peninsula is gone, it will not come back,” Schönbach said, referring to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, calling Russia’s decision to seize Ukrainian territory “nonsense.”
Schönbach’s statements in no way matched the position of the Federal Defense Ministry in terms of content and choice of words, and Chief of Staff Eberhard Zorn will be given the opportunity to make a statement, the German Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Bild newspaper also called on Schönbach to resign from his post.
“It is a scandal in itself that the Commander of the Navy said in the video that Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula is ‘gone’ and ‘will never come back’,” the newspaper quoted Schönbach as saying about Crimea.
“An apology would no longer help,” the Navy Commander said during an official visit.
Meanwhile, the German News Agency (DPA) reported that German Ambassador to Kiev Anka Feldhusen was summoned to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry for Schönbach’s remarks.
Following the backlash, Schönbach posted on his Twitter account that his statements to a think tank in India were personal thoughts at the time, which in no way matched the position of the German Armed Forces.
“I shouldn’t have done it without thinking, if I misjudged it,” Schönbach said.