German navy chief's unusual remarks on Putin's intentions in Ukraine | World News - Hindustan Times
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German navy chief's unusual remarks on Putin's intentions in Ukraine

Jan 22, 2022 11:24 AM IST

Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach contended that Russia had no plans to occupy Ukraine while speaking about the situation in the eastern European country

The German Navy chief, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, has said he doesn’t believe Russia intends to occupy Ukraine and that all Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking for is respect, remarks that have caused consternation in European security circles.

Russia is accused of having amassed 100,000 troops at the border with Ukraine and the US and its allies have demanded these forces be withdrawn. (REUTERS) PREMIUM
Russia is accused of having amassed 100,000 troops at the border with Ukraine and the US and its allies have demanded these forces be withdrawn. (REUTERS)

In unusually blunt remarks during an interactive session on Friday at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), a government-backed think tank, Schönbach said China is “giving money to dictators, to killers, to criminals” in order to get access to the natural resources of their countries. He also said countries taking assistance from China under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) would be unable to repay their debts.

Schönbach contended that Russia had no plans to occupy Ukraine while speaking about the situation in the eastern European country. Russia is accused of having amassed 100,000 troops at the border with Ukraine and the US and its allies have demanded these forces be withdrawn.

“Is Russia really interested in having a small, tiny strip of Ukraine soil to integrate in their country? No, this is nonsense,” Schönbach is heard saying in a video of the interaction posted on the official YouTube channel of IDSA.

“I think Putin is probably putting pressure on it because he can do it, and he knows that if [he does it], he splits the European Union. But what he [Putin] really wants is respect... and my God, giving some respect is low cost, even no cost,” he said.

“So if I was asked, it is easy to even give him the respect he really demands and probably also deserves,” he added.

Schönbach described Russia as an “important country” and referred to its background as a Christian nation. “Even we – India, Germany – we need Russia because we need Russia against China,” he said.

He added that “this big country, even if it is not a democracy”, should be kept on the side of European nations and given a chance. Placing Russia at the same level as the US would keep “Russia away from China because China needs the resources of Russia”, he said.

Schönbach’s remarks reflect the divisions among European nations and the US in responding to the situation in Ukraine. The German Navy chief, currently on an official visit to India, made the remarks on a day when the US and Russian foreign ministers held talks in Geneva aimed at reducing the chance of conflict over Ukraine.

Responding to a question on China, Schönbach said the Belt and Road Initiative was getting countries in Africa mired in debt while the Chinese side made inroads into the infrastructure and security sectors.

He said he had spoken about the money that China gives to countries under its Belt and Road Initiative with the foreign ministers of Mali and Niger and noted that China is the biggest lender in Africa.

“When you do this, you can never pay back the credit. This is impossible,” Schönbach said.

“Who is working there? Chinese engineers and workers. Who is controlling this infrastructure? Chinese. Who is installing CCTV cameras for controlling the whole society? China. What is your outcome? Zero,” he said.

He added, “China is giving money to dictators, to killers, to criminals. It doesn’t matter as long as they give their resources to China.”

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