- Jenny Hill
- BBC Berlin correspondent
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht submitted her resignation from the government, after a series of lapses and mistakes in the field of public relations.
The resignation comes as Berlin faces mounting pressure to allow German-made battle tanks to be sent to Ukraine.
Lambrecht was ridiculed when she announced that Germany had supported Ukraine by sending 5,000 military helmets.
It has also been widely criticized for failing to improve Germany’s ill-equipped armed forces, despite the €100 billion earmarked for the task, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Lambrecht, a member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic party, was also criticized when news broke that she had taken her son on a military helicopter trip.
But her posting of an embarrassing video on New Year’s Eve sparked widespread contempt and undermined her support within political circles. In the video, she says she is grateful for all the “meetings” the conflict in Ukraine has allowed her to have while fireworks explode around her in Berlin on New Year’s Day.
“The media’s focus on me for months squandered any opportunity to provide fact-based reporting and debate about soldiers, the army and security policy for the benefit of German citizens,” Lambrecht said in her resignation statement, seen by dpa.
She added, “The valuable work of our soldiers and many passionate people in the field of defence, should be at the fore.”
Lambrecht was supposed to meet other defense ministers from Ukraine’s Western allies at the US base in Ramstein on Friday to discuss more support for Ukraine.
The German government is facing renewed calls to send German-made Leopard 2 tanks, which Ukraine considers essential to defeating Russia, or at least to agree to send them from countries such as Poland.
Warsaw has indicated its intention to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, but it needs permission from the manufacturing country.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has been criticized for his cautious approach to the issue of sending heavy weapons to Ukraine, announced his approval last week to send Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine.
Schultz reached this decision in agreement with the United States, which in turn announced that it would send “Bradley” armored vehicles.
Shortly thereafter, Britain announced that it would send Challenger tanks, increasing pressure on Germany to act.
The BBC has learned from a senior government source that Berlin will send the Leopard 2 if the United States joins the agreement.
The head of the German arms manufacturer “Rheinmetall”, which manufactures these tanks, warned that even if an agreement is reached, we cannot send the tanks before 2024.
But German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck recently said that his country will not stand in the way of other countries that want to send Leopard tanks.
It is not yet clear who will succeed Lambrecht in her position, which is described as a chalice of poison, and many refer to it as a “ejection seat” from the government.
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