Why Couldn’t Germany’s Navy Chief Kay-Achim Schonbach Speak Frankly About Putin and Ukraine To Indian Policy Wonks?

Max Can't Help It!
2 min readJan 27, 2022


What’s fascinating to me is when I first heard of the German Navy chief who was forced to resign, I couldn’t find a transcript of what he said. Whenever a high ranking military officer is fired, my first suspicious isn’t that the speaker was wrong, but that he said the right thing at the wrong time.

To let you judge, I have transcribed what he said, best that I can. Most news articles picked parts of what he said to make him sound like a Putin-lover. Keep in mind he is speaking in English, in which he isn’t comfortable. Further, I believe much of what he said, he’s probably said before at these conferences.

From what I understand, the new political party running Germany is not interested in open discussion.

What is in my mind ministers ask me, what do you think what Russia really wants, on the other side of the street? Russia… is it really interested to have a small, tiny strip of Ukraine soil, to integrate into their country? No, this is nonsense. I think Putin is putting pressure on it because he can do it.

And he knows if he spits, he splits the European Union. But what he really wants is respect. He wants on eye-level, he wants respect. And my God, giving someone respect is low cost, even no cost. So if I was asked — I wasn’t asked — it is easy to give him the respect he really demands and probably also deserves.

Russia is an old country. Russia is an important country. Even we, India, Germany, we need Russia. Because we need Russia against China.

Probably not from your perspective, but from my perspective, I’m a Roman Catholic. I believe in God. I believe in Christianity. Even Putin is a lapsed Christian — doesn’t matter. Having this large country, even if it isn’t a democracy from our point of view, having them as a bilateral partner, giving them a chance with the EU and United States of America, have them on eye-level, on our same eye level. It is an easy world and keeps Russia properly away from China because China needs the resources of Russia.

And they [Russia] are willing to give it to them because our sanctions go the wrong way. But this is foreign policy, made by politicians.

Of course we can’t agree on what Russia is doing in Donbas. Of course that has to be addressed. And yes what is happening in Ukraine.

The Crimea Peninsula is gone. It’ll never come back. This is a fact.

We have to learn that political issues are factual questions and not emotions.

— January 21st, 2022