German politician defends party with Putin
A politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has defended attending a party in St Petersburg with President Vladimir Putin in the middle of the stand-off over Ukraine.
The 70th birthday party for former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder on Monday night made headlines after a photo was taken of Putin and Schröder embracing as old friends.
The German government has tried to distance itself from ex-chancellor Schröder as it attempts to talk tough with Russia over its actions in Ukraine.
But Philipp Mißfelder, the CDU’s foreign affairs spokesman, also attended Schröder’s 70th party, stating the atmosphere and discussions that evening over dinner were “very serious”.
“We’re not enemies with Russia,” he said in an interview with Bild newspaper on Friday, while also adding he was following the situation in Ukraine with “great concern”.
He said he attended as a private citizen rather than as a government representative.
Four Germans are currently being held hostage in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian militia and Schröder’s attendance at the party in St Petersburg has been met with derision in Germany.
Mißfelder, 34, declined to go into detail about any discussions held over the fate of the hostages.
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