How Gerhard Schröder became one of the key people

Two old friends. Photo source: FAZ.net.

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Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has been appointed to the supervisory board of Russian giant Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas company announced on Friday, according to the international press, quoted by Agerpres.

Schröder, a former German chancellor from 1998 to 2005, is a prominent former leader of the German Social Democrats, but also one of the closest friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

His ties with Russia are often controversial, including within his own party, now at the helm of the new ruling coalition in Berlin, along with the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

His appointment to Gazprom’s supervisory board is set to be made official at Gazprom’s annual general meeting on June 30.

Schröder will replace Timur Kulibaev, the son-in-law of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has fallen into disfavor in Astana and Moscow. Kulibaev has been fired following the January violent uprising in Kazakhstan.

Schröder already holds a number of senior positions in Russian companies.

The 77-year-old former chancellor is already chairman of the board of directors of the state-owned energy company Rosneft and chairman of the shareholders’ committee of Nord Stream AG (the company that operates the first line of the Russian-German gas pipeline). The former Chancellor is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nord Stream 2 AG.

Both pipelines connect Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea.

Critics of Russia, especially the United States, have said that Nord Stream 2, which is not yet in operation, could be used as a lever against Moscow if it decides on a military invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s demands for arms deliveries from its Western supporters in the context of tensions on its border with Russia have been described by Schröder as threats.

He also blamed NATO for the deployment of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine.