A German navy chief's pro-Moscow remarks have put Germany under fire as many question the country's international reliability during the crisis in Ukraine.
Germany's new government is facing pressure to get tough on Russia, after a German navy chief's pro-Moscow remarks angered Kiev and exasperation grows with Berlin's fence-sitting in the Ukraine crisis.
The spat was triggered by German navy chief Kay-Achim Schonbach's musings that it was "nonsense" to think Russia was about to march on Ukraine and that President Vladimir Putin deserves respect.
Schonbach resigned late on Saturday but the damage was done.
The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, said on Sunday that Ukrainians were "deeply shocked" by his words.
The incident "massively calls into question Germany's international credibility and reliability — not only from the Ukrainian perspective," he told Die Welt newspaper on Sunday.
After, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba summoned the German ambassador and accused Germany of "encouraging" Putin to attack Ukraine.
Major test for Scholz
After a week of frantic diplomacy that included a visit to Berlin by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chancellor Olaf Scholz's government found itself scrambling at the weekend to reassure Kiev of its support amid fears of a Russian invasion.
The Ukraine crisis is the first major test for Scholz, who took over from veteran leader Angela Merkel last month.
His coalition government of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens and the pro-business FDP, has vowed "dialogue and toughness" with Russia.
But it has struggled to overcome internal divisions and craft a unified response on how to deal with an emboldened Moscow.
A key bone of contention between Germany and Western allies is Berlin's refusal to send weapons to Ukraine.
The decision puts Germany at odds with the United States, Britain and Baltic states which have already agreed to send weapons, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.
Ukraine's Kuleba said Germany's cautious stance does not match "the current security situation", and urged Berlin to "stop undermining unity" among Kiev's allies.