Germany replaces army chief after controversial comments on Russian military capabilities

File – File image of German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius in front of Army Chief Eberhard Zorn and former Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht. – Michael Kappeler/dpa

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has dismissed the country’s army chief, General Eberhard Zorn, after he was criticized after making controversial comments about Russian military capabilities in the context of the war in Ukraine.

In an interview last year with Focus magazine, Zorn stated that Ukraine conducts »counterattacks, with the help of which it can recapture frontline locations, but it cannot push back Russia on a broad front.»

In the aftermath, Ben Hodges, the former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, criticized his statements, asserting that they were a »shockingly poor analysis of Russian capabilities that, unfortunately, reflect much of the thinking of the German ‘elite,»» he said on his Twitter account.

Lt. Gen. Carsten Breuer will replace Zorn as inspector general of the German Armed Forces, dpa news agency has learned.

Breuer became a familiar face in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic due to his role as head of the COVID-19 crisis staff.

The current defense minister took office in mid-January this year, after replacing Christine Lambrecht in the post, who became embroiled in several controversies amid the debate over whether Berlin should send more modern battle tanks to Ukraine.