March 11—In what came as a surprise for most, Germany’s former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder met with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow yesterday, to discuss peace options for Ukraine with him. Details, and whether more meetings are planned, including whether Schröder would also meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kiev, have not been disclosed. The Moscow trip is said to be endorsed or even initiated by Kiev; there are also reports that before flying to Moscow, Schröder met with a Ukrainian diplomat in Istanbul.
Schröder’s mission has no official backing by the government of Germany, and his political party the SPD says it did not know about it before the news about the meeting came in last night. From the SPD, there were generally only cautiously optimistic voices. “What is clear is that anything that helps stop this horrific war in Ukraine is good,” SPD leader Lars Klingbeil told Der Spiegel.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has welcomed the meeting of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. “I believe that all possibilities must be used to establish channels of talks,” Nehammer said March 10 on the sidelines of the EU summit in Versailles. Current German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he did not want to comment.
Even the otherwise belligerent Ukrainian Ambassador to Berlin Andriy Melnyk, learning about the Schröder trip, endorsed it, saying that “If Mr. Schröder thinks he can do it—let’s see.” At the same time, he criticized Germany’s discontinued attempts at mediation, after the Federal Republic had been involved in the Normandy format, with Ukraine, Russia and France, for seven years. Yet these are currently important, the ambassador stressed: “For us, every day counts, because too many people have had to die in this terrible war to date.”
Schröder maintains a personal friendship with Putin. He also keeps a leading position both at Rosneft and the Nord Stream 2 company; furthermore, he will join the board of Gazprom in June.
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