Vice-Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach said the idea that Russia wanted to invade Ukraine was nonsense. The naval chief added that all Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted was respect. He later withdrew his comments where he called for rapprochement with Mr Putin amid the Ukraine crisis, terming it as a “mistake”.
Mr Schönbach then said on Saturday that he had resigned from his role.
He added that he would be resigning with “immediate effect” to “avert further damage”.
Writing about the resignation of the German naval chief on Twitter, Daily Telegraph Middle East correspondent James Rothwell said: “Head of the German navy has resigned after saying that Putin ‘probably’ deserves respect and that Crimea is lost and never coming back.”
Speaking at a think tank in New Delhi on Friday, Mr Schönbach said: “Does Russia really want a small and tiny strip of Ukraine soil integrated into the country?
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He added: “It is easy to give him the respect he really demands and also probably deserves.”
The naval chief said the Crimean peninsula “is gone and will never come back”.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry reacted with anger to Mr Schönbach’s remarks.
Dmytro Kuleba said the comments were “categorically unacceptable”.
Russia has denied claims that it is intending to invade Ukraine.
From February to March 2014 Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.
The move by Moscow was part of the wider Russo-Ukrainian conflict which has been ongoing since February 2014.