German Ex-Chancellor Schröder to Leave Board of Russia’s Rosneft

Moscow (dpa) – Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder is stepping down as head of the supervisory board of Russian oil giant Rosneft, the company said on Friday, after months of controversy over his close ties to the Kremlin and Russian businesses.

Schröder – who has come under increasing international pressure since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine in February – said it is impossible for him to extend his mandate on the board, Rosneft said, without giving further details.

Long the subject of fierce criticism in Germany, the 78-year-old had his right to an office at the German parliament in Berlin removed this week and is facing calls to be sanctioned from the European Parliament.

Schröder, a long-time friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was a Social Democratic chancellor from 1998 to 2005. After leaving office, he went on to work for Russian energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft, among others.

He also holds leading positions in the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines connecting Russia and Germany through the Baltic Sea.

Another German businessman, Matthias Warnig, is to leave the Rosneft board along with Schröder, the company said. Warnig is also managing director of Nord Stream 2 AG, the company overseeing the eponymous pipeline, which now lies completed but switched off following Moscow’s invasion.

Washington had slammed Berlin for years over its gas infrastructure plans with Russia, particularly Nord Stream 2. In February, Warnig was placed under US sanctions.

At home in Germany, Schröder caused a stir when, during escalating tensions before Russia attacked its neighbour, he criticized Ukraine’s demands for arms supplies as “sabre rattling.”

Schröder defended his work in Russia in an interview with The New York Times last month: “I don’t do mea culpa. It’s not my thing.”

Schröder is having the cancellation of his former chancellor’s privileges, which was approved by the Bundestag’s budget committee on Thursday, legally reviewed, according to his lawyer.

Last year, the German state spent more than €400,000 ($423,000) on personnel expenses in Schröder’s office. The former chancellor is still entitled to a pension and personal protection under the committee’s decision. Schröder himself has yet to comment on the matter.

 

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