A former Austrian chancellor and former prime ministers of Italy and Finland were among officials who stepped down from boards of top Russian companies on Thursday in protest over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. .
But the former chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schröder, is not among them.
Mr. Schröder, a friend of Russian President Putin, is a familiar face on the boards of several well-known companies, including Rosneft, the Russian oil giant. He is chairman of the shareholder committee of Nord Stream 2, the company that owns the new natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany that Berlin said this week it will stop.
He has also been invited to sit on the board of directors of Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, the parent company of Nord Stream 2.
Schröder, 77, who served as prime minister from 1998 to 2005, on Thursday called for an end to the war, writing in a post on his LinkedIn account.
But in contrast to a chorus of harsh criticism of the Russian attack from European leaders, Mr. Schröder highlighted “missed opportunities between the West and Russia,” as well as “many mistakes – of both both sides”.
He said that “Russia’s security interests do not justify the use of military means”, but warned European leaders against taking actions that “sever political ties, economic and civil society remains between Europe and Russia.”
Others bound in Russian boardrooms felt compelled to resign in the wake of the invasion. Matteo Renzi, Italy’s former prime minister, has resigned from the board of Delimobil, a Russian car-sharing service, his party said. Finland’s former prime minister, Esko Aho, told local media that he had withdrawn from the board of Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank.
A former Austrian chancellor, Christian Kern, who led the Austrian railway company ÖBB, has resigned from the board of Russia’s state-owned railway company, RZD, saying he does not want to get involved in the war.
“Since last night, the RZD has been part of the logistics of war,” he told the Austrian newspaper Der Standard. “I deeply regret this.”
But another former Austrian prime minister, Wolfgang Schüssel, remained unmoved by the attack, saying he had no reason to give up his position on the board of Lukoil, a Russian multinational company. . And Karin Kneissl, the country’s former foreign minister has Putin’s wedding party crashed in 2018, also still sits on Rosneft’s board of directors.
But as images of Ukrainians fleeing the capital Kyiv appeared all day on German screens on Thursday, calls for Mr Schröder to sever ties with Russia grew.
Christian Bangel wrote in an editorial in the German weekly Die Zeit. “It did damage not only to Schröder himself, but also to the office of the chancellor.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/business/russia-ukraine-corporate-boards.html Some, but not all, former European leaders leave the Russian Board of Directors