Germany’s controversial former chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, confirmed that he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week and insisted that the Kremlin is open to talks to end the war in Ukraine.
“The good news is that the Kremlin wants a negotiated solution,” Schroeder told German magazine Stern in an interview published Wednesday. Although Russia’s invasion of its neighbour is a “mistake,” the former Social Democratic party leader said the conflict can be solved.
Schroeder, who led Europe’s largest economy from 1998 to 2005, has come under an avalanche of criticism at home and abroad for maintaining his close personal ties with Putin and keeping lucrative jobs with Russian state-owned energy companies.
The former leader’s recipe for a settlement echoed many of Moscow’s demands in the war. Ukraine should surrender its claim to Crimea — which Russia annexed in 2014 — as well as its NATO aspirations, Schroeder said. The eastern Donbas region should remain part of Ukraine, though the Russian minority there should be given special rights.
Both sides should make concessions, Schroeder said, signaling that Turkey could play a mediating role.
Germany can avoid an energy crunch this winter by re-activating the now-defunct Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Schroeder said. He negotiated the initial deal for the pipeline, a direct gas link between Russia and Germany, as chancellor and has served as chairman of the shareholder committee of Nord Stream AG.
“If you don’t want to use Nord Stream 2, you have to face the consequences,” Schroeder said.
Schroeder, who made an attempt at talks with Putin weeks into the war, repeated that he wouldn’t quit the Russian leader, saying he could be “useful.”