Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is “absurd” with his uncritical comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin and should resign from the Social Democratic SPD.
SPD co-chair Saskia Esken said this on the radio following an interview with Schröder in the New York Times. He rejected the allegations of war crimes against Putin and said lower-ranking officials allegedly issued orders for massacres in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.
Schröder, 78, has close and controversial ties with Russia and his friend Putin, with whom he met in Moscow in March. He sat on the supervisory board of the Russian oil group Rosneft and lobbied on behalf of gas company Gazprom for the construction of the Nord Stream gas pipelines from Russia to Germany. He is also chairman of the shareholder committee of the Nord Stream company.
Despite strong criticism from the SPD, he refused to give up those positions when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. The procedure to expel Schröder, who led the German government from 1998 to 2005, has been initiated, but there are still many hurdles to overcome, according to co-chairman Esken.