Wednesday

26th Sep 2018

Kiev wants EU sanctions on former German chancellor

  • Gerhard Schroeder is seen by Ukraine a pro-Russian lobbyist (Photo: nord-stream2.com)

Ukraine is pressing for the EU to impose sanctions against former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, over his pro-Russian lobbying activities.

In an interview published Monday (19 March) in the Bild newspaper, Ukraine's foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin described Schroeder as "the most important lobbyist of Putin's projects worldwide. That is why the European Union should analyse its possible actions."

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Shortly after Schroeder stepped down as Germany's chancellor in 2005, he became a chairman at Nord Stream, a company that is majority owned by Russian energy group Gazprom.

The move to the senior post was made after Schroeder, while still chancellor, authorised a controversial Nord Stream pipeline to ship Russian gas directly to Germany via the Baltic Sea.

It meant bypassing transit countries like Poland and Ukraine. His loyalty appears to have been rewarded given a recent promotion. Last year, he became chairman of Rosneft, another state-owned Russian oil giant.

A second pipeline, Nord Stream 2, has also received the backing of Angela Merkel's government although it opposes any plans to bypass Ukraine as a transit country.

Merkel has embraced the pipeline as being a "purely economic" project despite the fact her EU allies in eastern Europe believe it will help Russia to use gas flows as a tool of political blackmail against them.

"North Stream 2 will be one of the important issues on this meeting agenda," Michal Dworczyk, the head of the Polish prime minister's office, told private broadcaster TVN24, as Merkel headed to Warsaw for a visit on Monday.

Merkel's government has in the past tried to distance itself from Schroeder.

In 2014, the former Social Democrat was seen embracing Russian president Vladimir Putin shortly after Russia had invaded Ukraine and then annexed Crimea.

Russia has used and continues to use the gas as an extension of its power against critical governments and states.

Earlier this month, it refused to sell gas to Ukraine, but EU states, including Germany, have aimed to temper Russian pressure on Ukraine by sharing Russian gas.

An EU source said it was legally possible to impose EU asset freezes and visa bans on EU nationals, such as Schroeder.

The visa ban would mean that they would not be allowed to leave their home country to travel to other EU states.

The EU already has asset freezes and travel bans in place on several French, German, and UK nationals and dual nationals on grounds of their links to Al-Qaeda, a jihadist group.

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Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has blamed US president George W. Bush's strong religious beliefs for why the two countries eventually fell out over the Iraq war. Elsewhere in his memoirs he has praise for the Russian president and criticises the current leadership in Berlin.

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