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Defiant Schroeder will keep talking to Putin

A diplomatic solution to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is the only thing that can effectively alleviate the suffering of civilians, the former German chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, has told Germany’s FAZ newspaper, adding that he would continue to use every opportunity to talk to the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The former chancellor, who was earlier forced to leave his position at the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft amid pressure from the European Parliament lawmakers, is now facing potential expulsion from his Social Democratic Party (SPD) at home. His perceived close relations with Moscow are cited as one of the reasons why the party considers his behavior “damaging” to its image, according to FAZ.

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Schroeder himself, however, believes that the idea of isolating Russia politically is flawed. “I will not give up on… opportunities to talk to President [Vladimir] Putin,” Schroeder told FAZ in an interview published on Sunday.

READ MORE: Brussels and Berlin’s witch-hunt against ex-German chancellor who defended Germany and the EU against US pressure

Russia is “interested in a negotiated solution,” the former chancellor asserted as he blamed Kiev for the stalled talks with Moscow. Schroeder, who sought to act as a mediator between Kiev and Moscow in early March, said that Ukrainians did not want any commitments “written down.” Such a position made any “serious” talks impossible at that stage of the negotiations, he added.

The former chancellor also demonstrated little understanding for the West’s focus on supplying Ukraine with arms. “I don’t believe in a military solution. The war can only be ended through diplomatic negotiations,” he told FAZ, adding that lives of the military on both sides can be spared and the suffering of the civilian population in Ukraine alleviated only through a diplomatic solution.

When asked if he thinks that the western weapons deliveries contribute to a stronger negotiating position for Ukraine, Schroeder reiterated that all the nations, including “those not directly involved in this conflict,” should “work together to find a diplomatic solution” instead.

READ MORE: Germany’s ex-leader loses privileges over Russia connection

He also criticized Lithuania over restricting the movement of goods to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, again saying that “all sides” bear responsibility for ensuring that “this conflict does not escalate further.”

The interview comes ahead of an SPD committee meeting next week that will discuss the former chancellor’s potential expulsion from the party. The politician’s lawyer told FAZ, however, that there is no sufficient legal basis for such a move. In June, Schroeder said he would still remain a Social Democrat, even if kicked out of the SPD.

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