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German Ex-Chancellor Schröder in Moscow for Ukraine peace bid: reports

Germany's former chancellor Gerhard Schröder reportedly met Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Moscow in a bid to get the Russian leader to end his invasion of Ukraine. 

German Ex-Chancellor Schröder in Moscow for Ukraine peace bid: reports
Gerhard Schröder in Berlin in December. Photo: dpa | Christoph Soeder

News outlet Politico, which did not name its sources, said the meeting was coordinated with Kyiv and that Schroeder had travelled to Russia via Turkey. 

The German government led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who like Schroeder is a Social Democrat (SPD), was not informed about the trip, government sources told AFP. 

Bild daily, also citing unnamed sources, said that Schröder had told only his closest confidants about the meeting. 

SPD co-leader Lars Klinbeil said on broadcaster ZDF that his party did not know anything about the trip, but added that “anything that helps to end this terrible war is welcome.”

Schröder’s wife Soyeon Schröder-Kim posted late Thursday on Instagram a photograph of herself with eyes closed and hands clasped like in a prayer, with the Kremlin in the background. 

Schröder, who was Germany’s chancellor from 1998 to 2005, has come under fire at home and abroad over his refusal to resign from his job as chairman of the board of directors at Russian oil giant Rosneft despite Moscow’s assault of Ukraine. 

The 77-year-old is also chairman of the shareholders’ committee at Gazprom’s subsidiary Nord Stream, and is due to join the supervisory board of Gazprom itself in June. 

Schröder has issued a statement condemning the invasion as unjustified but saying that dialogue must continue with Moscow. 

Furious over his refusal to cut his Russian ties loose, his aides have walked out on him. 

Scholz has also come out publicly to urge Schröder to leave his Russian jobs, saying it is “not correct” for him to hold those offices. 

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POLITICS

Scholz says Germany to become biggest NATO force in Europe

Germany's investments in defence in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine will transform it into the biggest contributor to NATO in Europe, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday.

Scholz says Germany to become biggest NATO force in Europe

Alongside the United States, Germany is “certainly making the largest contribution” to NATO, Scholz said in an interview with the ARD broadcaster.

Speaking at the close of a summit of leaders from the Group of Seven rich democracies, Scholz said Germany was in the process of creating “the largest conventional army within the NATO framework in Europe”.

Days after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Scholz announced a 100-billion-euro ($105-billion) fund to beef up Germany’s military defences and offset decades of chronic underfunding.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Bundestag approves €100 billion fund to beef up defences

He also promised to meet NATO’s target of spending two percent of GDP on defence, answering years of criticism from close allies that Berlin was failing to contribute enough to the alliance.

Russia’s invasion had led to a renewed conviction “that we should spend more money on defence”, Scholz said.

“We will spend an average of around 70 to 80 billion euros a year on defence over the next few years,” he said, meaning “Germany is the country that invests the most in this”.

Scholz’s announcement in February was seen as a major policy shift, upending Germany’s traditionally cautious approach to defence as a result of its post-war guilt.

Germany had steadily reduced the size of its army since the end of the Cold War from around 500,000 at the time of reunification in 1990 to just 200,000.

NATO allies are from Tuesday gathering in Madrid for a summit, where the United States is expected to announce new long-term military deployments across Europe.

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