Berlin [Germany], January 23 (ANI): Ukrainian Ambassador to Berlin Andriy Melnyk welcomed on Sunday the resignation of the Commander of the German Navy, Vice Adm. Kay-Achim Schonbach, who had previously said that Crimea would never return to Ukraine despite Kiev's attempts to put pressure on Moscow, Sputnik reported.
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia have increased with Russian troop build-up near the two nations' borders spurring fears that Moscow could launch an invasion.
On Saturday, Schonbach requested to be relieved of his post after the controversial statement. According to the vice-admiral, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht accepted his request, it reported.
"We welcome Schonbach's resignation," Melnyk told the German newspaper Welt.
The ambassador also stressed that Schonbach's statement "calls into question Germany's international standing and credibility, not only from the Ukrainian point of view."
On Friday, Schonbach said at a conference in India's Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies that Crimea does not exist and that it will never come back. Moreover, the vice-admiral regarded Western accusations that Moscow allegedly plans to invade Ukraine as "nonsense." In addition, Schonbach stressed that India and Germany need Russia to confront the growing influence of China.
Crimea became a part of Russia in a referendum held in March 2014 in which near 96% of Crimeans voted for joining Russia. Kiev considers Crimea to be a Ukrainian territory illegally occupied by Russia. Moscow has repeatedly stated that the decision made by the Crimean people was made in full compliance with international law and the UN Charter. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Crimean issue is "finally closed," Sputnik reported.
In the past few months, the West and Ukraine have accused Russia of amassing troops near the Ukrainian border in alleged preparation for invasion. Russia said that it has no intention of invading Ukraine while stressing that it has the right to move forces within its own territory.
Russia has also expressed concern over NATO's military activity near its borders and the ongoing military support for Ukraine, including an increase in the number of Western instructors in Donbas.
In December, the Russian government proposed a set of mutual security guarantees in Europe to NATO and the United States, with their response still pending.(ANI)