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German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht resigns amid Ukraine-related criticism

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BERLIN — German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht resigned on Monday after a series of missteps that cast doubt on her ability to lead her country’s response to the war on Ukraine.

Lambrecht, 57, said she asked Chancellor Olaf Scholz to remove her because “media attention on me” was distracting from policy decisions.

The embattled politician, a member of Scholz’s Social Democrats, had faced growing pressure to step down after a widely criticized New Year’s message and revelations she took her son by military helicopter in northern Germany for a holiday. The public relations mistakes fueled wider criticism of his handling of war response at the Ministry of Defense and a planned overhaul of the country’s military.

Ukraine in Germany: Send armored vehicles to keep pressure on Russia

His resignation leaves the government rushing ahead of a crucial US-led meeting of Western allies to coordinate military support for Ukraine at Ramstein Air Base in Germany this week. Germany is under pressure to increase its support by sending Leopard 2 main battle tanks and to give the green light to Poland to re-export German-made tanks in its stocks to Kyiv.

Scholz has accepted the resignation and a decision on a replacement will be made “as soon as possible”, government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann said at a press conference on Monday.

Lambrecht’s appointment as defense minister in Scholz’s first government just over a year ago was criticized from the start with questions about his lack of experience. In January last year she was mocked for a statement announcing Germany’s decision to send 5,000 helmets to Ukraine instead of weapons and in her first interview she admitted not knowing military ranks.

Last spring, it appeared that she allowed her son to travel with her aboard a government-owned helicopter en route for an Easter holiday on the German island of Sylt.

The New Year’s message, however, was seen as the final straw in a series of embarrassments. In the video posted on her Instagram accountshe stood outside on a Berlin street with the sound of fireworks behind her and reflected on a year with “war raging in Europe”.

“With that, for me, there were so many special impressions that I was able to gain, so many encounters with interesting and great people,” she said. “For that, I say a heartfelt thank you.”

Lambrecht puts all of Germany to shame!“, we read in the German tabloid Bild, the most widely read newspaper in Europe. He criticized Production Values ​​for being “embarrassing honorary village mayor” and called his lyrics, which did not mention Ukrainian suffering, “shameful”.

But there have also been concerns about his ability to lead Germany’s defense policy during such a crucial time. She has faced questions about her competence to properly implement the spending of Germany’s more than $100 billion fund to reorganize its military.

Almost a year after theturningSpeech, where he announced the funding as part of a shift in Germany’s defense policy, some analysts said Germany’s underfunded military was in worse shape than when it started .

Germany has struggled to meet its commitments to a NATO rapid reaction force after all of its 18 Puma infantry fighting vehicles were assigned to the deployment failed during a training exercise last month. The MoD said it would use its decades-old Marders instead.

For years, the German army was chronically ill-equipped, a situation that the new funding was to correct. But Germany has backtracked on promises to finally meet its NATO requirement to spend 2% of its gross domestic product on defence.

Scholz is under pressure to find a replacement before Allied defense ministers, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, arrive in the country for the Ramstein meeting on Friday.

Before the meeting, Germany showed a softening of its position on sending tanks to Ukraine. Economy Minister Robert Habeck said last week that Berlin should not stand in the way of a Polish decision to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Since the tanks are made in Germany, they require permission from Berlin to be sent to the battlefield.

But in a blow to hopes that Berlin could quickly send its own tanks, German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall has indicated that it will have to wait until next year to refurbish and repair the Leopard tanks he has in stock.

“Vehicles have to be completely dismantled and rebuilt,” chief executive Armin Papperger told Bild on Sunday.

War in Ukraine: what you need to know

The last: Russia claimed on Friday it had taken control of Soledar, a hotly contested mining town in eastern Ukraine where fighting has raged in recent days, but a Ukrainian military official argued the battle was not yet over. finished.

Russia’s bet: La Poste has examined road to war in Ukraineand Western efforts to unite to thwart Kremlin plans, through in-depth interviews with more than three dozen senior US, Ukrainian, European and NATO officials.

Pictures: Washington Post photographers have been in the field since the war began — here are some of their most powerful works.

How you can help: Here’s how those in the United States can support the Ukrainian people as good as what people around the world have given.

Read our full coverage of the Russia–Ukraine War. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.

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