WASHINGTON (Dispatches) – U.S. Sen. Chris Coons has said in an interview that he would not support deploying U.S. troops into Ukraine, warning that “we would simply be sacrificing them.”
“I would not support sending American troops into Ukraine in response to a Russian invasion, because frankly, I think we would simply be sacrificing them,” Coons told Greta Van Susteren in an interview set to air on Sunday.
The Delaware Democrat, considered a close ally to President Joe Biden and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also defended the president after he made statements earlier this week during a nearly two-hour press conference in which he appeared to suggest that Russia would not face as severe consequences if it engaged in a “minor incursion” against Ukraine.
“It depends on what he does as to what extent we’re going to be able to get total unity on the NATO front,” the president said during the Wednesday press conference, referencing the allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
“I think what you’re going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades, and it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not to do,” Biden said.
German Navy Chief Resigns Over ‘Respect Russia’ Comments
The chief of Germany’s navy on Sunday resigned after arguing at a livestreamed event that Putin “deserves respect” and Kyiv will never win back Crimea – comments that Ukraine’s ambassador in Berlin said “massively” called into question Germany’s trustworthiness.
Vice-admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, who has led Germany’s
naval force and represented it externally since March 2020, made his comments at a talk organized by a thinktank in New Delhi on Friday.
Taking questions after a short presentation, Schönbach seemed to downplay the possibility of a military conflict with Russia and Ukraine. “Is Russia really interested in having a tiny strip of Ukrainian soil, to integrate into their country?” the 56-year-old said. “No. Putin is putting on pressure because he knows he can do it, he splits the European Union.”
What Putin really wanted, Schönbach argued, was respect. “On eye level, he wants respect. And my God, giving him respect is low cost, even no cost. It is easy to give him the respect he demands, and probably deserves.”
The comments come at a time when Germany’s stance in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is under increased scrutiny, and Europe’s largest economy is increasingly under fire in its refusal to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons, a position the government reiterated on Wednesday last week.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that Berlin has refused to issue permits so that Estonia can export German-made weapons to Ukraine.
The navy chief also said the territories of Crimea were “gone” and would “never come back” to Kyiv, arguing in favor of closer economic ties with Russia.
Describing himself as “a very radical Roman Catholic”, Schönbach said Russia was also a “Christian country, even if Putin is an atheist, it doesn’t matter”.
The comments drew heavy criticism from Ukraine’s ambassador in Germany when they emerged on social media.
Andriy Melnyk told Die Welt newspaper that Schönbach’s comments had “put the entire Ukrainian public in deep shock” and “massively called into question Germany’s trustworthiness and reliability, not just from a Ukrainian point of view.”
“German partners must stop such words and actions to undermine unity and encourage Vladimir Putin to a new attack on Ukraine,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Sunday.
In a statement released on Saturday night, Schönbach said he had asked Germany’s defense minister, Christine Lambrecht, to relieve him of his duties with immediate effect, and the minister had accepted his request.
Experts say Washington is using the Ukraine crisis as a pretext to further its policy of attempting to restrain Russia and China. In doing so, the U.S. has undermined Germany’s interests in completing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.