Germany’s defense minister resigns amid criticism over his handling of the Ukraine war

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announced her resignation on Monday after a series of public missteps, writing in a letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz that “months of media focus on my person” had prevented her from effectively leading the army.

Lambrecht, 57, has been defense minister since December 2021 when Schultz became chancellor. She previously held the positions of Minister of Justice and Minister of Family and Women.

In her letter of resignation to Schulz, who accepted it, she wrote: “The valuable work of the soldiers and many people in my department must come first.”

Former German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht speaks to soldiers during a presentation at the ‘Erzgebirgskaserne’ barracks in Marienberg, East Germany, Thursday, January 12, 2023.
(Robert Michael/DPA via The Associated Press)

Her resignation comes as Germany faces mounting pressure from allies to increase its military support for Ukraine, with the Polish prime minister calling on the German government to supply Kyiv with Leopard 2 battle tanks and other weapons on Monday.

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Germany has provided howitzers, self-propelled Gepard anti-aircraft guns and other forms of military support to Ukraine over the past 11 months, and recently announced that it would send 40 Marder armored personnel carriers and a battery of Patriot air defense missiles.

A new Leopard 2 A7V heavy battle tank, 9th Panzer Training Brigade of the Bundeswehr, stands during Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht's visit to the German Army's training ground on February 7, 2022, in Münster, Germany.

A new Leopard 2 A7V heavy battle tank, 9th Panzer Training Brigade of the Bundeswehr, stands during Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht’s visit to the German Army’s training ground on February 7, 2022, in Münster, Germany.
(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The resignation also comes ahead of a meeting of Ukraine’s defense contact group later this week at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is set to host a meeting of allies.

A Russian missile attack on an apartment building in Ukraine killed at least 30 people

Lamprecht’s replacement has not been announced. Schultz promised gender equality in his cabinet, which meant he was likely to appoint a woman to fill Lambrecht’s role.

Soldiers of the Panzergrenadierbrigade 37 mechanized infantry unit of the Bundeswehr demonstrate the capabilities of the Marder infantry fighting vehicle (Schuetzenpanzer Marder) during a visit by German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on December 12, 2022 in Marienberg, Germany.

Soldiers of the Panzergrenadierbrigade 37 mechanized infantry unit of the Bundeswehr demonstrate the capabilities of the Marder infantry fighting vehicle (Schuetzenpanzer Marder) during a visit by German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on December 12, 2022 in Marienberg, Germany.
(Jens Schlueter/Getty Images)

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Meanwhile, Schultz has defended his government’s making of “calm, measured and cautious” decisions when it comes to military support to Ukraine.

“It always remains that we act in close consultation and carefully evaluate each step,” Schultz said on Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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