Naval chief scandal: ex-inspector general Kujat covers Schönbach’s back


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From: Bedrettin Bölükbaşı

The former Inspector General of the German Armed Forces, Harald Kujat, is stepping down as Chairman of the Heckler & Koch Supervisory Board. Photo: Wolf von Dewitz/dpa © Wolf von Dewitz

In the Ukraine conflict, the statements made by the German naval chief, Schönbach, drew harsh criticism. Former Inspector General Kujat now supported the Vice Admiral.

Munich – The statements made by the German naval chief Kay-Achim Schönbach on the Ukraine conflict with Russia were his undoing and caused a stir. He publicly downplayed the threat posed by the Russian troop deployment and also said that the Russian ruler Vladimir Putin deserved respect.

The video quickly spread on social media and made international headlines. Ukraine in particular, which was targeted by Russian aggression, reacted with outrage. The fact that Berlin refuses to supply arms to the Ukrainian army causes enough problems in relations with Kiev. Schönbach’s words were the final straw from Kiev’s perspective. The chief of the navy had to resign. He now received support from the former Chief of Staff of the German Armed Forces, Harald Kujat.

Schönbach scandal: Ex-Inspector General Kujat protects Vice Admiral – “described position of the USA”

“If I were still in office, I would have stood in front of Admiral Schönbach and I would have tried to prevent his dismissal – by any means necessary,” former Bundeswehr Inspector General Harald Kujat told dpa tagesschau24 and objected to the handling of the case.

According to him, allegations of misconduct against Schönbach are not true. “He would have committed a disciplinary offense if he had violated the Soldiers’ Act and seriously damaged the reputation of the Bundeswehr or the respect and trust that his official position requires,” emphasized Kujat, despite Schönbach’s statements, which were considered to belittle the Russian aggression were perceived.

According to the ex-inspector general, criticism of Schönbach’s formulations is justified, especially in a “heated-up situation”, but the now ex-naval chief merely reflected on the US position and thus that of Germany’s “closest ally”. In connection with this, Kujat sees no problem with Schönbach’s words about Putin not wanting to attack Ukraine, but only striving for “respect at eye level”. Here, too, the Vice Admiral described what the USA is currently doing.

Ukraine conflict with Russia: Former Bundeswehr Inspector General hopes for a “reasonable result”

Harald Kujat also commented on the recent tensions with Russia over Ukraine. Looking at the situation, he expressed his hope for de-escalation. “It must be in our interest to come to a reasonable conclusion, to de-escalate and also to come to a détente with Russia, and of course always taking into account the security interests of Ukraine,” said the former inspector general. This is “completely clear”.

Instead of always talking about war, we have to talk about “how a war can be prevented”. “Does anyone really want that,” he asked of a possible war between Ukraine and Russia over control of Crimea. After all, according to Kujat, even US President Joe Biden ruled out military means. In his statements, former naval chief Schönbach said, among other things, that the Crimean peninsula was gone and would not be coming back – much to the shock of Ukraine.

Schönbach gets backing from Kujat – the ex-inspector general apparently part of a think tank close to the Kremlin

While Harald Kujat defended the former chief of the navy, Kay-Achim Schönbach, the CDU politician and former member of the Bundestag, Ruprecht Polenz, intervened with a small, but possibly crucial, tip about the former inspector general of the Bundeswehr. “Kujat is a member of the supervisory board of the Yakunin Institute, a Kremlin propaganda facility in Berlin,” commented the former chairman of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Twitter.

But what is behind the organization for “Dialogue of Civilizations” known as the Yakunin Institute? Specifically, it is a think tank founded by former Russian railway chief and close confidant of Putin, Vladimir Yakunin. According to the press spokeswoman, the institute is financed by the DW in 2018 primarily by Yakunin himself and Armenian-Russian businessman and philanthropist Ruben Vardanian.

The name of the businessman, who also belongs to Putin’s close circle, last appeared in 2019 in a gigantic money laundering scandal in Russia. The bank “Troika Dialog”, then managed by Vardanian, is said to have been instrumental in a large scheme for money laundering, from which those close to Putin probably also benefited, such as the SZ reported at the time of the scandal. (bb)


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