Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has expressed his continued support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and criticized the failure of the current German and French leaders to find a diplomatic solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. In an interview with the Süddeutschen Zeitung newspaper, Schroeder emphasized that his personal relationship with Putin is separate from politics and that he will not deny their friendship.
Schroeder acknowledged that he has criticized Russia’s actions in starting the war in Ukraine but stated that this does not change his friendship with Putin. He recounted a peace mission he and his wife embarked on in March, attempting to persuade Moscow and Kiev to make concessions for the sake of ending the hostilities. Unfortunately, their efforts were unsuccessful.
Despite the lack of progress, Schroeder believes that a resolution to the conflict is still possible with the intervention of current government leaders and presidents. However, he expressed disappointment in the current leaders in Berlin and Paris, suggesting that they are not doing enough to address the situation. Schroeder argued against the idea of supplying more weapons, stating that it is unlikely to bring an end to the hostilities.
Regarding his position in the company operating the Nord Stream gas pipelines, Schroeder defended his decision to remain in this role despite criticism. He pointed out that prior to the conflict, German society was reliant on Russian gas to fuel its economy.
In a previous interview with German broadcaster RTL, Schroeder reiterated his support for his past policies towards Russia and stated that severing ties with Russia now would not be beneficial. He expressed his desire to continue seeking opportunities to communicate with President Putin.
Schroeder has faced criticism in Germany for his close affiliation with Russia, resulting in him being stripped of parliamentary privileges last year. Some members of his own party, the Social Democrats, called for his expulsion earlier this year, but their efforts were unsuccessful.
Despite the criticism, Schroeder remains steadfast in his support for Putin and his belief in the potential for diplomatic resolution in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. He continues to advocate for dialogue and communication as the best path forward.