Bloomberg’s Arne Delfs reports on former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a critic of German sanctions on Russia over Ukraine. His connections and motivations, at least, are obvious.
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder urged an end to sanctions on Russia, clashing with his successor Angela Merkel over relaxing penalties imposed in the conflict over Ukraine.
As Schroeder evoked German-Russian friendship today at a conference co-sponsored by Russian gas exporter OAO Gazprom (GAZP), an official familiar with German policy making warned that the sanctions, aimed at extracting Russian cooperation to end fighting in eastern Ukraine, could be further tightened.
Schroeder, a Social Democrat who led Germany from 1998 to 2005 and friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, symbolizes the forces pulling at Merkel as she seeks to keep German industry and public opinion behind sanctions. While Schroeder is retired from politics, his party is Merkel’s junior coalition partner.
“The mutual sanctions are causing immense damage to both sides,” Schroeder said in a speech in the Baltic port of Rostock, which lies in Germany’s formerly communist east. “Politicians in Russia and Europe must find a way out of the spiral of ever tougher sanctions.”
Schroeder makes no secret of his Russian ties. He chairs the shareholder committee of Nord Stream AG, the Russian-German natural-gas pipeline company that’s 51 percent owned by Gazprom. He celebrated his 70th birthday this year with Putin in St. Petersburg, and he and his wife, Doris, adopted two children from Russia.