Despite Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which has been going on for four and a half months, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) is still unwilling to break off his contacts with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I will not give up my opportunities to talk to President Putin,” said Schröder in an interview with the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”. He follows the German debate about the delivery of heavy weapons with incomprehension.

“Why are you concentrating on the delivery of weapons?” Schröder said. “I don’t believe in a military solution. The war can only be ended through diplomatic negotiations. The fate of the soldiers and the Ukrainian civilian population can only be alleviated through a diplomatic solution.”

Schröder traveled to Moscow in early March and spoke to Putin about the Ukraine war. Schröder now said: “As far as I understood him in my conversation, he is interested in a negotiated solution. What such a solution looks like can only be clarified in a negotiation.” In his opinion, all sides should contribute “to preventing the conflict from escalating further”.

Schröder has been criticized for months for his activities for Russian energy companies despite the Ukraine war. There are more than a dozen motions from the SPD to expel the former chancellor from the party. However, the hurdles for this are very high.

On Thursday, proceedings against the former chancellor will begin in the SPD sub-district of Hanover because of Schröder’s close contacts with Russian energy companies and in the Kremlin. According to Schröder, he is relaxed about this. In this context, Schröder said of SPD leader Lars Klingbeil: “That is disappointing. He probably thinks he owes the office that.”

Schröder decided in May to give up his position at the Russian oil company Rosneft. Shortly thereafter, the former chancellor also stated that he had given up a position on the supervisory board of the gas company Gazprom that had been offered to him “a long time ago”.