German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht resigns amid Ukraine-related criticism

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BERLIN – German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht resigned on Monday after a series of mistakes cast doubt on her ability to lead her country’s response to the war in Ukraine.

Lambrecht, 57, said she had asked Prime Minister Olaf Scholz to remove her from office because “the media’s focus on my husband” was distracting from policy decisions.

The politician, who was a member of Scholz’s Social Democrats, was under pressure to step aside after a widely criticized New Year’s Eve message and revelations that she took her son in a military helicopter to the north Germany for the holidays. Public relations blunders fueled wider criticism of her handling of the Ministry of Defense’s war response.

Her appointment leaves the government scrambling ahead of a crucial meeting of Western allies to coordinate military aid to Ukraine at Ramstein Air Base in Germany this week. Germany is under pressure to increase its support by sending Leopard 2 battle tanks.

Lambrecht’s appointment as defense minister as part of Scholz’s first government just over a year ago was met with criticism from the start with questions about her lack of experience. In January last year, she was ridiculed for a statement revealing Germany’s decision to send 5,000 helmets to Ukraine instead of weapons and subsequently showed a lack of knowledge of military standards.

After the invasion of Russian President Vladimir Putin last year, she was further blamed for not implementing Germany’s $100 billion fund to modernize its military.

The New Year’s message, however, was seen as the last straw in a series of embarrassments. In the video posted on her Instagram account, she stood outside on a street in Berlin with the sound of fireworks going off behind her and reflected on a year with “a war of war in Europe”.

“Related to that for me, there were many special ideas that I received, many, many meetings with interesting and brilliant people,” she said. “For that, I say a heartfelt thank you.”

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