German Defence Minister quits as pressure grows for Ukraine aid

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected]
German Defence Minister quits as pressure grows for Ukraine aid
Christine Lambrecht (SPD), Federal Minister of Defence, walks to the Air Force Airbus A321 on the military section of BER Airport for the flight to Bratislava in December 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht resigned on Monday after coming under months of heavy criticism over Berlin's stuttering response to the war in Ukraine


Her decision came just days ahead of a crucial meeting of defence ministers from Ukraine's allies, and as Berlin was once again under intense pressure to provide battle tanks to Kyiv.

But government sources told AFP that no decision was expected on Monday on her successor.

Lambrecht, 57, said in a statement she had asked Chancellor Olaf Scholz to relieve her of her duties.

"The months-long media focus on my person hardly allows for objective reporting and discussion about servicemen and women... and security policy decisions in the interest of the citizens of Germany," she said.

The politician from Scholz's Social Democrats (SPD) had faced criticism for months over what critics say is Germany's wavering response to the conflict in Ukraine.

But patience for Lambrecht ran out when she posted a New Year's video on social media in which she lauded her "special experiences" as defence minister in 2022 against a backdrop of loud fireworks.

READ ALSO: German Defence Minister under fire for New Year's video


Leading German media blasted the tone-deaf message, with some commentators saying she was "no longer tenable as a minister".

Rumours had been swirling ever since that she was planning to hand in her resignation.

Tanks for Ukraine

Lambrecht's move comes days before the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, which coordinates arms supplies to Kyiv, is due to meet at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Even before the invasion, the minister was mocked in January 2022 for her announcement that Germany would send 5,000 helmets to Kyiv, where the Ukrainian government was seeking heavy weapons to ward off Moscow.

She then came under fire in May for allowing her son to accompany her on a government helicopter on their way to a family vacation.

German media questioned the wisdom of the move, with Der Spiegel magazine saying it "raised some eyebrows".

The Bild daily asked whether the holiday had been necessary at all in the middle of the Ukraine crisis.

Lambrecht then came under heavy criticism in early January over the video posted on social media, in which she reflected on a year ending with "war raging in the middle of Europe".

To the backdrop of exploding fireworks during chaotic New Year's celebrations in Berlin, Lambrecht said the war in Ukraine had led to "a lot of special experiences" and the chance for "many encounters with great and interesting people".

Names of senior SPD politicians are already circulating for her replacement, including Eva Hoegl, the parliamentary commissioner on armed forces.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also