Former chancellor and gas lobbyist Gerhard Schröder has given up his position on the supervisory board of the Russian energy company Rosneft. It’s too late for SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert. And the former NATO chief is calling for more “German leadership”. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war here in the ticker.

8.38 a.m .: SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert has criticized Gerhard Schröder’s resignation from his supervisory board position at the Russian energy company Rosneft as a step that was too late. The decision of the former SPD chancellor was “probably not entirely accidental,” said Kühnert of the Düsseldorf “Rheinische Post” (Saturday), obviously with a view to the pressure on Schröder from the federal government, the Bundestag and the EU Parliament. “Unfortunately much too late.”

However, Kühnert kept a low profile on the EU Parliament’s specific demand for sanctions against Schröder. “I have no reason to hold a protective hand over him. If there are clear, objective criteria for sanctions lists, then of course they apply to everyone. Others will have to judge whether that is the case here.”

On the other hand, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) opposed the demand for sanctions and, with a view to the withdrawal of some of the former chancellor’s privileges by the Bundestag, said: “This is the decision that is now necessary, I don’t think any more are necessary.”

Rosneft announced on Friday that Schröder would not extend his term as head of the supervisory board. Schröder is also nominated for the supervisory board of the Russian energy company Gazprom and works as a leading lobbyist for the Gazprom subsidiaries Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2.

The Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer told the “Handelsblatt”: “Neither Mr. Schröder nor the SPD will be able to leave this matter behind with half measures.” He accused the Chancellor of refusing to speak plain language. “Scholz’s statements on the Schröder cause show hesitation.” And: “Scholz speaks more as an SPD man and less as a chancellor.”

7:43 a.m .: Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has criticized the federal government’s cautious course in view of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Germany is “too hesitant to deliver heavy weapons and impose sanctions,” Rasmussen told Handelsblatt change in Ukraine. We need German leadership.”

The Dane, who was Prime Minister of his country from 2001 to 2009 and Secretary General of the transatlantic military alliance from 2009 to 2014, called on Europeans to stop importing oil and gas from Russia immediately. “Certainly an energy embargo will have a price. But compared to the cost of a protracted war, that price would be small,” argued Rasmussen.

The greatest risk is a war of attrition. “The Russians are experts at playing with unresolved conflicts. We see this in Georgia, in Moldova and in Ukraine’s Donbass region, which they invaded back in 2014. We should do what is necessary to end this conflict quickly.” The most effective means is to stop the financing of Putin’s war machine – and that is exactly why a halt to all oil and gas imports is needed.

Rasmussen viewed the planned northern expansion of NATO through the accession requested by Sweden and Finland as a historic step and a real strengthening of the alliance. “Finland has one of the strongest armies in Europe, powerful artillery, and the number of troops, not to mention the reserve, is incredibly high. Sweden has a powerful air force and significant naval capabilities.” So both countries would “bring in a lot,” according to Rasmussen. “They will increase NATO’s defense capability – especially with a view to the Baltic States.”

7.46 a.m .: SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert has admitted controversy within the coalition with the FDP and the Greens. “I’m not going to tell you the story that everything always works great at traffic lights. Of course it jerks, it’s quite normal,” he told the “Rheinische Post” (Saturday). But he called for mutual fairness. “The promise of this government is that everyone should be able to find common ground and that every party should be able to achieve success. We have assured ourselves that projects will not be implemented against each other, but with each other. This promise applies to all three parties.”

Kühnert defended the communication style of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and said: “With his Hanseatic sobriety, he is a brand. I can’t take Heino’s sunglasses away and Udo Lindenberg’s hat.” And: “If Olaf Scholz started talking like (Federal Economics Minister) Robert Habeck, everyone would think it was carnival.” History would prove Scholz right that his deliberative manner is the right one to convey serious politics in serious times.

7.30 a.m .: The publicist Alice Schwarzer, as co-author of a much-discussed open letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), has renewed her call for immediate negotiations with Russia to end the war. “I don’t think Putin is crazy,” Schwarzer told the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” (Saturday edition). The Russian President himself knows “that he cannot wage this war, which was a crime from the start, forever.”

In Schwarzer’s view, the end of the fighting around Kyiv and the shift of the war to eastern Ukraine would be a good time to explore a ceasefire and seek compromises. Almost always “in a war, the consequences of the war are worse than the consequences of negotiations and compromises. And in this case, it’s not just about the consequences for the parties to the conflict, but for the whole world.” Schwarzer referred in particular to millions of people in the Global South who are threatened with starvation due to a lack of food supplies – an “unbelievable humanitarian catastrophe extent,” says Schwarzer.

The editor of the feminist magazine “Emma” accused both Putin and the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj of making the situation worse through macho behavior. “Violated male honor is a public danger, for husbands as well as for presidents. And “toxic masculinity”, as they say today, also plays a major role here on both sides.” We know that well enough from Putin. “But Selenskyj also fills the pose of the hero who is determined to fight to the last breath.” Schwarzer criticized that she had not heard a word of thoughtfulness from him. “Only that the war must go on – not how to end it.”

Schwarzer described her open letter as an unusual success. The main goal of making the reservations about more and more arms deliveries audible has been “one hundred percent achieved”. In her life she had “already started a lot”, continued the 79-year-old. “But I have to say: The reactions to this letter are just great. And not only those who agree, but also those who are still thoughtful and critical. A public debate has finally started on this issue of vital importance to us all. We must talk about the danger of an escalation up to a third world war!”

06.40: Russia has stopped its gas supplies to Finland. “Natural gas deliveries to Finland under the Gasum supply contract have been suspended,” said the Finnish state-owned energy company Gasum on Saturday. The Russian energy giant Gazprom announced the delivery stop on Friday, referring to the dispute over ruble payments.

Gasum said gas is now being sourced from other sources via the Balticconnector pipeline, which connects Finland and Estonia. Gasum had already emphasized on Friday that a Russian delivery stop would not lead to supply problems in Finland.

Gazprom announced on Friday that it would stop gas supplies to Finland from 06:00 CEST on Saturday. The reason given by the company was that the April deliveries had not been paid for on time. Gasum had rejected Moscow’s demand to pay bills for gas deliveries in rubles.

Natural gas accounts for eight percent of the Finnish energy mix. So far, most of the gas has come from Russia.

The gas supply stop comes a few days after Finland’s official NATO application. The country, which had been neutral for decades, decided to take this step in view of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Russia has criticized its neighbor’s plans to join NATO as a “serious mistake”. Finland and Russia share a border that is more than 1,300 kilometers long.

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