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Schröder on talks with Putin in Moscow

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Berlin (AP) – Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the war in Ukraine.

Corresponding reports from the news portal “Politico” and the newspaper “Bild” were confirmed by the German Press Agency. According to dpa information, a first meeting between Schröder and Putin took place on Thursday. It was initially unclear if more were planned.

The federal government had previously announced that the trip had not been arranged with her. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) only said on the sidelines of the EU summit in Versailles about the reports about the trip: “I don’t want to comment on that.”

Instagram photo of Schröder-Kim looking towards Red Square

Schröder’s wife, Soyeon Schröder-Kim, posted a photo of herself with her hands clasped and her eyes closed on her Instagram page Thursday night, with St. Basil’s Cathedral on Moscow’s Red Square in the background. According to dpa information, Schröder and Schröder-Kim traveled to Moscow via Istanbul. It is said that the mediation initiative came from the Ukrainian side.

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Schröder has been a longtime friend of Putin, who launched a war of aggression against Ukraine on February 24. The former chancellor also works as a lobbyist for the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipeline companies and is chairman of the supervisory board of the Russian oil company Rosneft.

Even after the start of the Ukraine war, he remained in office despite enormous pressure from his own party. The SPD leadership has already sent an ultimatum to Schröder to give up his mandates in Russian state-owned companies. A “rapid” response is expected, party leader Lars Klingbeil said a week ago. So far, no such response from Schröder is known. A local SPD association has already called for Schröder’s expulsion from the party.

Klingbeil on the trip to Moscow: “First something sensible”

On Thursday night, Klingbeil was cautiously positive about Schröder’s trip to Moscow on the ZDF program “Maybrit Illner.” “Anything that helps to end this terrible war is welcome,” he said. We’ll see if it helps. In any case, every conversational situation is “first of all something reasonable.”

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Klingbeil said he knew nothing about Schröder’s visit to Russia. “He is not on behalf of the SPD or on behalf of the federal government.” The government officials he spoke with also knew nothing about a meeting.

The chairman of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael Roth (SPD), told ZDF: “Every opportunity must be used to silence the guns. And it’s not about Gerhard Schröder or anyone else. I’m worried about people from Ukraine, because they deserve it. That’s why I keep my fingers crossed”.

Detour via Istanbul

According to Politico, the trip was organized by a politician from Kiev. On Monday, the Schröder-Kim couple traveled to Istanbul for the first time, where the former chancellor met with a Ukrainian delegation. His subsequent request for a meeting with Putin is said to have been answered positively within ten minutes. Schröder and Schröder-Kim were flown to Moscow on a Russian plane on Wednesday.

Schröder-Kim had already written on Instagram on Saturday: “You can be sure that whatever my husband can do to help end the war, he will do, regardless of ultimatums from the SPD or other organizations like the DFB.”

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Ambassador of Ukraine: “I don’t know anything about it”

On the Ukrainian side there were initially no comments on Schröder’s trip to Moscow. Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, told the German Press Agency on Thursday afternoon: “I don’t know anything about it.”

However, Melnyk had endorsed Schröder’s mediation attempt in an interview a week ago. “He is one of the few here in Germany who may still have a direct line to Mr. Putin. There is no one who has something like this in Germany and the other European countries”, said the ambassador of the “image”.

First a statement from Schröder about the war

Schröder has only spoken publicly about the Russian invasion of Ukraine since the beginning of the war. On February 24, on the LinkedIn online network, he called on Russia to end the war and the associated suffering for the people of Ukraine as soon as possible. At the same time, he stressed that the political, economic and civil society ties between Europe and Russia must not be completely severed if sanctions are necessary.

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