German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has resigned amid criticism over Ukraine

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

Lambrecht, 57, said he had asked chancellor Olaf Scholes to remove him because “media attention on my person” was distracting from policy decisions.

A member of Scholz’s Social Democratic Party, the embattled politician then faced mounting pressure to step aside. A widely talked about New Year’s Eve message She took her son By military helicopter To Northern Germany for a holiday. The public relations blunders added fuel to wider criticism of the Defense Ministry’s handling of the war’s response and planned restructuring of the country’s military.

Ukraine to Germany: Send armored vehicles to pressure Russia

His resignation leaves the government reeling this week ahead of a crucial US-led meeting of Western allies to coordinate military support for Ukraine at Ramstein air base in Germany. Germany pushes to increase its support by sending Panther 2 battle tanks Give the green light to Poland To re-export German-made tanks in its stocks to Kiev.

Scholz has accepted the resignation and a replacement decision will be made “as soon as possible,” government spokesman Christian Hoffmann told a press conference on Monday.

Lambrecht, who was appointed defense minister in Scholz’s first government a year ago, faced criticism from the start with questions about his inexperience. In January last year, he was ridiculed for a statement announcing Germany’s decision to send 5,000 helmets to Ukraine instead of weapons, and in his first interview he admitted to having no knowledge of military standards.

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Last spring, it was revealed that she He allowed his son to travel with him In a state-owned helicopter en route to an Easter vacation on the German island of Sylt.

The New Year’s news was seen as the final straw in a string of embarrassments. In a video posted on him Instagram accountShe was standing outside on a Berlin street, fireworks going off behind her

“I was able to get many, many meetings with interesting and great people, many special records related to me,” he said. “For that, I thank you very much.”

Lambrecht disgraces all of Germany!” read a headline in German tabloid Bild, Europe’s most widely read newspaper. Production Values ​​criticized the “honorable village mayor” and described his remarks as “disgraceful” for not mentioning Ukrainian suffering.

But there are also concerns about his ability to lead Germany’s defense policy during such a critical period. He faced questions over Germany’s ability to properly manage the more than $100 billion spent on rebuilding its military.

Scholes’ “almost a year laterturning point” speech, announcing the funding as part of a turnaround in Germany’s defense policy, some analysts have said Germany’s unfunded military is in worse shape than when it started.

After 18 Puma infantry fighting vehicles were earmarked for deployment, Germany struggled to meet its commitments to a NATO rapid reaction force. Failed during training Last month. The Defense Ministry said it was using decades-old mortars instead.

For years, Germany’s military had been so poorly armed that it was hoped that new funding would fix that. But Germany has backed away from its NATO commitments to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense.

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

Ahead of the meeting, Germany has softened its stance on sending tanks to Ukraine. Berlin should not stand in the way of Poland’s decision to send Panther tanks to Ukraine, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said last week. Because the tanks were made in Germany, they had to be shipped from Berlin to the battlefield.

But in a blow to Berlin’s hopes that it would quickly ship its own tanks, German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall He mentioned that it will take until next year The panther tanks in stock should be repaired and repaired.

“The vehicles will have to be completely dismantled and rebuilt,” chief executive Armin Popperger told Bild on Sunday.

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