Schröder pressures Ukraine for peace after ‘tense’ meeting with Putin – POLITICO

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has continued his impossible mission of brokering peace between Russia and Ukraine in recent days, meeting top officials from both sides of the conflict from Moscow to Istanbul.

The former German leader, widely criticized across the West for his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, last week agreed, at the behest of Ukrainian intermediaries, to act as an unofficial mediator between the two countries. The two sides in the stalled peace talks.

In his first attempt, Schröder arrived in Moscow on Thursday to meet the Russian leader. His discussions with Putin that day were “very tense” and candid, according to a person close to him. Schröder made it clear what he thought of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the person said, without providing further details.

After meeting with Putin on Thursday in the Kremlin, Schröder sat down on Friday morning with Vladimir Medinsky, the Russian leader’s chief negotiator in the ceasefire talks with Ukraine, according to a person close to the former Prime Minister.

The two men had a “long discussion” focusing on similarities – including the status of the disputed territories and Kyiv’s NATO aspirations – that had been raised in bilateral negotiations between Russia. and Ukraine in Belarus and Turkey, according to the source.

Over the weekend, Schröder then traveled to Istanbul, where he met on Sunday with Rustem Umerov, a Ukrainian MP and member of his country’s delegation in peace talks with the Russians. The former German politician gave Umerov, who had been in contact with Schröder since last week, a summary of his discussions in Moscow.

It remains unclear whether Schröder will make another trip to Moscow.

The German government did not allow Schröder to act as a middle man and expressed surprise after learning about this following a POLITICO report on his assignment last week. After initial criticism from its own centre-left Social Democrats, the party leading Germany’s government coalition, SPD Chairman Lars Klingbeil expressed hope that the former prime minister will succeed.

While Schröder’s shuttle diplomacy did not yield any immediate results, such as a hoped-for ceasefire, the one-time German leader believes that his relationship with Putin and the no formal authorization from any government – including his own – allows him to play a unique role as an elder statesman outside the usual diplomatic channels.

In recent days, several world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett have all spoken to Putin, but Schröder is the only Western figure who has spoken with Putin. met face-to-face with both the Russian leader and Ukrainian officials.

Ukrainian officials initially contacted Schröder through Ringier, a Swiss media conglomerate. Schröder worked as an international advisor to Ringier for more than 15 years, but the publisher ended the relationship amid recent controversy surrounding Schröder’s refusal to give up his board seat. to Russian energy companies after Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Ringier CEO Marc Walder agreed to link the Ukrainian side with Schröder and facilitate their first meeting in Istanbul last week. But the company is no longer directly involved, it said. Schröder pressures Ukraine for peace after 'tense' meeting with Putin - POLITICO

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