It would be safe to assume that the former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder would align himself with Russia, no matter how the Kremlin handles its confrontations in its periphery. As an official employee of the Kremlin, nothing less could be expected, and indeed we’ve become quite accustomed to his bending of morals to the will of their largest trading partner and energy supplier. Last night, Schröder capitalized on a benefit dinner organized by AWO International, a German humanitarian and development charity, by attacking some Western nations for running policies inconvenient to Moscow’s priorities, such as recognizing the independence of Kosovo and for the Polish missile shield plan, referring to both as “grave mistakes.” He said that “such policies must seem to Russia like an encirclement.” Furthermore, he said, with Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia in early August, “a further red line was crossed.”
Referring to a united front by the European Union and the West in condemning Russia’s ongoing presence in Georgia and their gradual incorporation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia into greater Russia, he stated that the “negative and, from the perspective of international law, problematic development must be stopped.”From the perspective of international law, such a statement from Mr. Schröder is laughable. As we have written before, it is possible that Schröder’s usefulness as a lobbyist for Russia is coming to an end, as statements about how terrible it is for the EU to show unity lack about as much credibility as his 2004 claim that Putin is a “flawless democrat.” It’s no wonder why the late Sen. Tom Lantos called the former German chancellor a “political prostitute,” but what we are witnessing now actually deeply undermines Russia’s interests in terms of relations with Europe. We are currently at a juncture in which dedicated and impartial interlocutors are desperately needed to communicate with an increasingly reactionary government that seems to display no reluctance about its lurch toward pariah state status.Exactly what good do these “close relationships” serve between the Kremlin and the current and former members of Germany’s SPD if there is a lack of willingness to make any progress toward compromise?