Mr Schroeder travelled to Moscow yesterday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin – although there were no immediate indications of any consequent diplomatic breakthrough. The 77-year-old SPD politician, who was his country’s leader from 1998 to 2005, has been embroiled in controversy in Germany for his insistence on staying on the boards of Russian energy giants Rosneft and Gazprom.
Igor Sechin and Alexei Miller, their two respective CEOs, were both sanctioned by the UK Government yesterday.
The meeting between between Putin and Mr Schroeder ended on Thursday evening, with no details available about the outcome.
Mr Schroeder’s wife, Soyeon Schroeder-Kim, later posted a picture on Instagram of herself praying, with the Kremlin in the background.
As Russia’s invasion entered its 16th day, Hans-Olaf Henkel, who stepped down a German MEP in 2019, was scathing about both Putin and Mr Schroeder.
He told Express.co.uk: “Apparently, both Putin and Schroeder are somewhat in trouble.
“Putin’s Blitzkrieg didn‘t work as expected, Western unity proved much stronger than he ever thought and the sanctions bite much more than he anticipated.
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“He has nothing to offer as a mediator and it is likely that by bestowing him with that role Putin does Schroeder a favour and not the other way around.”
Asked about the reports of the visit, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters on the sidelines of a summit of European leaders in France he did not wish to comment on the matter.
Mr Scholz has sought to distance himself from Mr Schroeder in recent weeks.
Asked about the report, which cited sources familiar with the matter, one insider said: “This was neither agreed with the government nor was it involved.” A second source confirmed the German government’s position.
Mr Schroeder is also chairman of the shareholders’ committee of the company in charge of building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is being sanctioned by the United States.
He has faced calls from some German government politicians to step down from his roles.
Andrij Melnyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, last week suggested Mr Schroeder could attempt to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv.