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Ex-German chancellor calls for diplomatic solution to Ukraine conflict

Gerhard Schroeder has told Suddeutsche Zeitung that Berlin and Paris should spearhead efforts to end the bloodshed

Berlin and Paris should be leading the way toward a negotiated solution to the Ukraine conflict, Gerhard Schroeder, who served as German chancellor between 1998 and 2005, has argued. The veteran politician also refused to disavow his long-time friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, adding that it could make him a good mediator in the current situation.

In 2014, Schroeder threw a birthday party in St. Petersburg, with the Russian leader in attendance. Back in 2006, he became the head of the shareholders’ committee of Nord Stream AG, later also accepting a role on the board of Russia’s Rosneft energy giant. Schroeder stepped down from the latter post several months after the conflict between Russia and Ukraine began in February 2022.

In an interview with Suddeutsche Zeitung published on Thursday, the 80-year-old expressed the view that it is still possible to secure a peace deal.

“I am firmly convinced that [President] Putin is also interested in that,” Schroeder clarified.

The former German chancellor told the newspaper that he did not believe the conflict would spread further beyond Ukraine, or that it would lead to the use of nuclear weapons.

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He also lauded German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for refusing to provide long-range Taurus missiles to Ukraine. However, according to the politician, Germany and France should do more on the diplomatic front to end the bloodshed. Schroeder also expressed cautious optimism over the fact that there is now talk within the ruling Social Democratic Party about potential ways out of the Ukraine conflict, such as the freezing of the hostilities.

In an interview with the press agency dpa last week, he similarly named diplomacy as the only way out of the crisis. Speaking of his personal ties to the Russian president, Schroeder said: “We have worked together sensibly for many years. Perhaps that can still help to find a negotiated solution.”

The former chancellor has previously called for a diplomatic resolution, claiming that Western Europe “failed” to seize the opportunity to push for peace in March 2022 during talks between Kiev and Moscow in Istanbul.

Around the same time, Schroeder himself reportedly traveled to Türkiye and Russia on a “peace mission.”

Russia has repeatedly asserted that it is in principle ready to engage in peace negotiations with Ukraine. According to Moscow, Kiev and its Western backers, however, have been setting unrealistic preconditions for talks.

 

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