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German defense minister resigns amid criticism over Ukraine’s war handling

German Minister of Defense Christine Lambrecht announced her resignation on Monday after a series of public blunders, writing in a letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz that “months of media focus on me” had prevented her from effectively leading the military.

Lambrecht, 57, had been defense minister since December 2021, when Sholz became chancellor. She previously served as Minister of Justice and Minister of Family and Women.

“The precious soldiers work and many people in my department must be front and center,” she wrote in the resignation letter to Scholz, which he accepted.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht talks to soldiers during a presentation at the barracks

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht talks to soldiers during a presentation at the ‘Erzgebirgskaserne’ barracks in Marienberg, east Germany, Thursday, January 12, 2023.
(Robert Michael/dpa via AP)

His resignation comes as Germany faces growing pressure from its allies to bolster its military support for ukrainethe Polish Prime Minister calling on the German government to provide Leopard 2 battle tanks and other weapons to Kyiv on Monday.

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Germany has provided howitzers, Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns and other military support to Ukraine for the past 11 months, most recently announcing that it will send 40 Marder armored personnel carriers and a missile battery Patriot air defense.

A new Leopard 2 A7V heavy battle tank of the Bundeswehr's 9th Panzer Training Brigade stands during a visit by Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht to the Bundeswehr army training grounds on 07 February 2022 in Munster, Germany.

A new Leopard 2 A7V heavy battle tank of the Bundeswehr’s 9th Panzer Training Brigade stands during a visit by Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht to the Bundeswehr army training grounds on 07 February 2022 in Munster, Germany.
(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The resignation also comes ahead of a meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group later this week at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected to host a meeting of allies.

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Lambrecht’s replacement has not been announced. Scholz has promised to have gender parity in his cabinet, which means he will likely appoint a woman to fill Lambrecht’s role.

Soldiers from the Bundeswehr's Panzergrenadierbrigade 37 mechanized infantry unit demonstrate the capabilities of the Marder infantry fighting vehicle (Schuetzenpanzer Marder) during a visit by German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on December 12, 2022 in Marienberg , in Germany.

Soldiers from the Bundeswehr’s Panzergrenadierbrigade 37 mechanized infantry unit demonstrate the capabilities of the Marder infantry fighting vehicle (Schuetzenpanzer Marder) during a visit by German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on December 12, 2022 in Marienberg , in Germany.
(Jens Schlueter/Getty Images)

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Scholz, meanwhile, defended his government’s “calm, thoughtful and careful” decision-making on military support for Ukraine.

“It always remains the case that we act in close consultation and weigh every step carefully,” Scholz said on Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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