Germany’s defense minister resigns after criticism of his handling of the war in Ukraine

Germany’s Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announced her resignation on Monday following a series of public blunders.

The 57-year-old Lambrecht had been Minister of Defense since December 2021, when Sholz became chancellor. She was previously Minister of Justice and Minister for Families and Women.

“The valuable work of the soldiers and many people in my department must be at the forefront,” she wrote in the letter of resignation to Scholz, which he accepted.

Forer German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht talks to soldiers during a presentation at the 'Erzgebirgskaserne' barracks in Marienberg, East Germany, Thursday, January 12, 2023.

Forer German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht talks to soldiers during a presentation at the ‘Erzgebirgskaserne’ barracks in Marienberg, East Germany, Thursday, January 12, 2023.
(Robert Michael/dpa via AP)

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 deliver Leopard 2 main battle tanks and other weapons to Kiev on Monday.

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Germany has been supplying howitzers, Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns and other military support to Ukraine for the past 11 months, most recently announcing that it will send 40 Marder armored personnel carriers and a Patriot air defense missile battery.

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

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

The resignation also comes ahead of a meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group later this week at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will host a meeting of allies.

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Lambrecht’s replacement has not been announced. Scholz promised gender equality in his cabinet, meaning he will likely appoint a woman to fill Lambrecht’s role.

Soldiers of the Bundeswehr's Panzergrenadier Brigade 37 mechanized infantry unit 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 Bundeswehr’s Panzergrenadier Brigade 37 mechanized infantry unit 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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Scholz, meanwhile, has defended his administration’s “calm, deliberate and careful” decision-making when it comes to military aid to Ukraine.

“It always remains the case that we act in close consultation and carefully weigh each step,” Scholz said on Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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