Schröder in the “New York Times”: No critical word about Putin

As of: 04/23/2022 8:23 p.m

After his failed mediation in Moscow and the never-ending criticism of his lobbying activities, is former chancellor Schröder moving away from his pro-Moscow stance? Rather not – as now became clear in an interview with the “New York Times”.

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder gave the New York Times a remarkable interview – remarkable because the former chancellor and current lobbyist for Russian companies once again refuses to break with his close friend Vladimir Putin. On the contrary: “You cannot isolate a country like Russia in the long term, neither politically nor economically,” said Schröder.

Nor does the former chancellor believe that Putin bears responsibility for the increasingly obvious Russian war crimes in Ukraine. The crimes, such as the alleged murder of civilians in Bucha, would have to be investigated. But he does not believe that the order came from Putin, the newspaper quoted Schröder as saying. Rather, “lower positions” are responsible.

“I have always represented German interests”

Schröder, who had tried unsuccessfully to mediate in Moscow in March, did not want to rule out another attempt. Should it be necessary, he would use his good relationship with Putin again, said the former Chancellor: “I’ve always represented German interests. I’ll do what I can. At least one side trusts me.”

Putin is definitely “interested in ending the war,” Schröder said, referring to his failed mediation attempt. “But that’s not so easy. There are a few points that need to be clarified,” said Schröder – without, however, explaining which points are involved.

Schroeder once again confirmed that he would not give up his work for Russian energy companies, which he had also criticized sharply in his own SPD. He only considers resigning from his posts if Putin actually turns off the gas supply to Germany and the European Union. But he doesn’t think it will come to that, Schröder said.

The former chancellor is the head of the supervisory board at the Russian oil company Rosneft and most recently also worked for the pipeline companies Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2. In the SPD, therefore, a party exclusion procedure against Schröder is now underway.

Interview comes at the wrong time for SPD

The SPD, which is already under pressure, is unlikely to like the statements made by their former chancellor. Because the party has been on the defensive for weeks because of its pro-Russian policies of the past decades. In addition, Schröder’s successor Olaf Scholz still does not want to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine, at least directly – to the displeasure of the coalition partners FDP and Greens.

But that’s not all: the general meeting of the Russian energy giant Gazprom will take place in June – then Schröder is to be elected to the supervisory board there as well. If he accepts the nomination. In an interview with the “New York Times”, the former chancellor left open whether he would take up the post or not – and at the same time made it clear that he saw no problems in his close relations with the Kremlin: “I’m not making a mea culpa. It’s not my thing.”

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