German defence minister quits ahead of key decision on arming Ukraine

© Philipp Schulze, AP

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht resigned on Monday after coming under months of heavy criticism over Berlin's stuttering response to the war in Ukraine.

Her decision came just days ahead of a crucial meeting of defence ministers from Ukraine's allies, and as Berlin was once again under intense pressure to provide battle tanks to Kyiv.

But government sources told AFP that no decision was expected on Monday on her successor.

Lambrecht, 57, said in a statement she had asked Chancellor Olaf Scholz to relieve her of her duties.

"The months-long media focus on my person hardly allows for objective reporting and discussion about servicemen and women... and security policy decisions in the interest of the citizens of Germany," she said.

The politician from Scholz's Social Democrats (SPD) had faced criticism for months over what critics say is Germany's wavering response to the conflict in Ukraine.

But patience for Lambrecht ran out when she posted a New Year's video on social media in which she lauded her "special experiences" as defence minister in 2022 against a backdrop of loud fireworks.

Leading German media blasted the tone-deaf message, with some commentators saying she was "no longer tenable as a minister".

Rumours had been swirling ever since that she was planning to hand in her resignation.

Tanks for Ukraine

Lambrecht's move comes days before the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, which coordinates arms supplies to Kyiv, is due to meet at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

(AFP)


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