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Germany’s defense minister steps down after series of errors

Christine Lambrecht, Minister of Defense, rides in a tank during her visit to the Tank Training Brigade 9 in Munster, Germany, Feb. 7, 2022. (Photo by AP)

Germany’s much-criticized Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has resigned as her department was under pressure for supplying Ukraine with lethal package of armaments.

The resignation was the culmination of growing skepticism about her willingness to revive Germany's armed forces against the backdrop of the Ukraine war with Russia.

Lambrecht had been under fire for months over Germany's sluggish response to the war.

The Ukraine war marked a big turning point in German defense policy, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announcing a 100-billion-euro ($108-billion) fund to upgrade the army, known as the Bundeswehr.

After years of chronic underinvestment, Scholz in September vowed to transform the country's military into the "best equipped" in Europe.

"Today I asked the chancellor to dismiss me from the office of federal minister of defense," Lambrecht said in a statement.

Lambrecht, in particular, was most recently criticized by media and opposition figures for not properly mentioning the Ukrainians' sufferings and courage in her New Year’s message recorded on the streets of Berlin.

“The media focus on my person for months hardly allows for objective reporting and discussion about the servicemen and women, the Bundeswehr and security policy decisions in the interest of the citizens of Germany,” Lambrecht added.

Her critics attacked her, among other shortcomings, over what they saw as her failure to grasp the gravity of the Ukraine war.

Scholz has accepted Lambrecht’s resignation, a spokeswoman for Scholz’s cabinet said in a press conference.

Approval ratings for Lambrecht showed over 70 percent of the Germans, who participated in the poll demanding her resignation, clearly calling on Olaf to find a successor.

German Chancellor is allegedly under pressure to find a successor for Lambrecht quickly due to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's visit to Berlin scheduled this week to attend a conference at the US military base in Ramstein to discuss the western countries continued support for Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Candidates for the ministerial post mentioned by the media included parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces, Eva Hoegl, junior defense minister Siemtje Moeller, SPD head Lars Klingbeil, and Labor Minister Hubertus Heil.

The Ukrainian government has been putting intense pressure on Germany, which last week said it was sending Marder fighting vehicles to Kiev.

German economy minister also said Berlin cannot rule out the delivery of the Leopard tanks, which are heavier fighting vehicles than the Marders. The Ukrainian government has long requested the mass-produced, German-made Leopard 2 tanks, used by several European allies.

Germany follows a more cautious approach to equipping Ukraine with weapons than other countries such as the UK and the United States.

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