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Former chancellor in Moscow: Schröder on talks with Putin – federal government not informed – politics

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Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the war in Ukraine. Corresponding reports from the “Politico” news portal were confirmed to the German Press Agency on Thursday evening. According to dpa information, a first meeting between Schröder and Putin took place on Thursday. It was initially unclear if more were planned.

As the news magazine “Politico” reports, the Ukrainian government is said to have asked Schröder to mediate and Schröder was initially in Istanbul and met with a Ukrainian representative who is part of the delegation for talks on the resolution of the conflict with Russia.

In Turkey, the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers also initially unsuccessfully negotiated a ceasefire and escape corridors on Thursday; it was the highest-ranking meeting to date.

According to information from the Tagesspiegel, neither the SPD leadership nor the federal government were aware of a possible Schröder mission. “Without information there is no consultation,” they said in government circles. Chancellor Olaf Scholz initially declined to comment on this. “I don’t want to comment on that,” the SPD politician responded to a question on the sidelines of an EU summit in Versailles, France.

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen.]

There were cautiously optimistic voices from SPD leaders on Thursday night. “One thing is clear: everything that helps stop this horrible war in Ukraine is good,” Der Spiegel quoted SPD leader Lars Klingbeil as saying.

“Schröder acted in such a way that it was shameful,” SPD deputy Helge Lindh told “Spiegel”. “Any approach to Putin to stop the insane war without a false concession is acceptable and worth a try,” Lindh told the news magazine.

SPD MP Ralf Stegner was also cautious. Regardless of the prospects for success, it would be “great” if Schröder could use his personal relations with Putin to “move toward a ceasefire,” Stegner said on “Spiegel.”

It was not entirely clear what Schröder’s mission might bring. So far, there are no signs that the Russian side is giving in. Despite diplomatic attempts, shelling continues, including against civilian installations in Ukraine, with the capital Kiev bracing for a major attack.

Switzerland, Istanbul, Moscow: The stations of the alleged Schröder mission

“Ukraine wants to see if Schröder can build a bridge for dialogue with Putin,” one of the sources told Politico, according to the unconfirmed report. Earlier, the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk suggested Schröder as a mediator.

However, Melnyk also said that he was not aware of an alleged mediation attempt by Schröder. “I find it hard to imagine that my government asked Schröder to do this,” Melnyk told the German Press Agency.

According to “Politico”, the contact with Schröder was made through the Swiss publisher Ringier, for which Schröder had worked as a consultant. He then flew to Istanbul with his wife on Monday. Ukrainian parliament member Rustem Umerov informed him that President Volodymyr Zelenskyj was relying on his relations with Putin to at least achieve a ceasefire.

“The Ukrainians gave Schroeder indications on several important issues that they would be willing to negotiate, including Ukraine’s NATO aspirations, the status of Crimea and the future of the Donbass region, which Russia had recognized as independent just days before. their invasion,” the portal reported. “Politician”.

A plane from Moscow?

After the meeting, on the way to the airport, Schröder contacted a person close to Putin and informed him about the conversation. He asked if Putin would meet with him. “Ten minutes later, Schröder was given the green light, but he was scheduled to wait in Istanbul until Wednesday for a Russian plane to pick him up,” the report said.

More about the war in Ukraine on Tagesspiegel Plus:

Schröder is the head of the supervisory board of the Russian state energy company Rosneft and also has management positions in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline projects. Due to his closeness to Putin, the former Chancellor (1998 – 2005) had lost more and more support, especially in the SPD.

Schröder’s fifth wife, South Korea’s So-yeon Schröder-Kim, had hired the former foreign minister as a peace broker shortly before the start of the war. “Many have contacted me asking if my husband could speak to Mr Putin about the Ukraine crisis. That would only work if the federal government was serious about it. But that cannot be assumed,” Schröder’s wife wrote in an Instagram post.

So-yeon Schröder-Kim also posted a photo on Thursday night, the background of which suggests that she is in Moscow. She is shown in the picture in a praying pose.

After the start of the war, not even SPD politicians could contact him and he was already called the “ghost of Hanover”. Because he refused all the way to give up his supervisory board mandates after Putin’s attack on Ukraine and because he is also supposed to join the Gazprom group’s supervisory board in June, the SPD has distanced itself from him. . He faces expulsion from the party.

SPD chairmen Saskia Esken and Lars Klingbeil, as well as eight former SPD leaders, recently issued a joint letter calling on the former chancellor to distance himself from Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin.

“Act and speak with clear words,” the letter says. In view of the war in Ukraine, it is now a question of “unequivocally opposing the military actions of President Putin”. He himself decides whether he wants to remain a respected social democrat in the future. If Schröder does not make a public statement, one will express “in this sense”.

Before that, he had already lost all the employees of his office at the Bundestag, including his former office manager and colleague Albrecht Funk. Schröder accused Ukraine of “saber rattling” in late January and repeatedly stressed that all sides had made mistakes and that Putin would not attack Ukraine.

[Alle aktuellen Entwicklungen im Ukraine-Krieg können Sie hier in unserem Newsblog verfolgen.]

Schröder connects, as he says, a friendship with Putin. In 2004 he called him an “impeccable democrat”. Schröder and his then-wife Doris Schröder-Köpf visited Putin again and again. For Schröder’s 60th birthday, Russian President Putin brought a Cossack choir to Hannover. And the Schröder couple were allowed to adopt two Russian children.

When Ukraine was invaded in February, Schröder wrote in his only statement on LinkedIn: “The war and the associated suffering for the people of Ukraine must end as soon as possible.” That is the responsibility of the Russian government, Schröder wrote without naming Putin.

In recent years, “errors and omissions in the relationship between the West and Russia” have often been discussed. “And there were plenty of mistakes, on both sides,” she wrote, as if to put Putin’s attack into perspective. “But Russia’s security interests do not justify the use of military means either.”

During the visit of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) a week before Putin’s war order, Russian President Schröder praised the Germans without measure for thanking him for the long period of low gasoline prices. Scholz only coldly commented that “he did not want to comment further on the private sector activities of a former politician. He does not speak for the Federal Republic of Germany, but for himself.”

Schröder opened all the doors to Putin in the chancellery and then to increase the gas billions with new gas pipelines through the Baltic Sea. Also thanks to German payments, the Russian Army was placed in the position it is in today.

Today, however, it turns out to be a mistake and a misconception on the part of German Russian politics and the SPD that Putin could be cornered by gas deals and that Nord Stream will be a purely private sector project. Schröder had pushed this, and under Angela Merkel the project of another Baltic Sea pipeline, Nord Stream 2, was pushed, which has now been stopped.

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