(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 29, 2017 former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, then newly elected chairman of the board of directors of Russia's oil giant Rosneft, attends a briefing in Saint Petersburg. - The German government will consider withdrawing perks given to ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder because of his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Germany's finance minister said April 30, 2022. Schroeder, who is a lobbyist for Russian gas, sparked fresh outrage after he told the New York Times that he would only give up his links if Russia stopped delivering gas to Germany. (Photo by Olga MALTSEVA / AFP)

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 not prepared 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” (Monday edition). He follows the German debate about the delivery of heavy weapons with incomprehension.

“Why are you concentrating on the delivery of weapons?” Schröder told the “FAZ”. “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 told the “FAZ”: “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.

Schröder told the “FAZ” about SPD leader Lars Klingbeil in this context: “That’s disappointing. He probably thinks he owes the office that.”