After the controversial statements by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) on Russia and in view of his rise to power in the Russian state-owned company Gazprom, other prominent social democrats are keeping their distance.

"I don't know anyone in the party who shares his views," said Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) of the "Rheinische Post" on Saturday.

Gazprom announced on Friday that Schröder, a friend of Russia's President Vladimir Putin, had been nominated as a candidate for the supervisory board.

Schröder is already chairman of the shareholders' committee of Nord Stream AG, which is majority-owned by Gazprom, and chairman of the supervisory board of the Russian state-owned energy company Rosneft.

He recently caused a stir by claiming that Ukraine was "saber-rattling" in its conflict with Russia.

Dreyer told the "Rheinische Post" on Saturday that the SPD was discussing its position on Russia internally, "but there is a very clear idea shared by all leading Social Democrats who have something to say in the party and are active will".

The danger of war in Europe is taken "very seriously".

“It is very clear that the aggression comes from Russia.

Thirdly, it is clear that we are firmly convinced of sanctions against Russia if the situation continues to deteriorate.” At the same time, the Social Democrats are of the opinion “that we must pave the way for robust discussion formats that are coordinated with NATO,” added Dreyer added.

"We need a channel with Russia in which we can talk about disarmament again."

The Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Manuela Schwesig (SPD), also shares the course she has described, said Dreyer.

“Manuela Schwesig fully supports the course set by Olaf Scholz and Lars Klingbeil.

Nothing fits in between.” Schwesig had repeatedly defended the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is intended to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany and ends in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Debate about former Chancellor references

The CDU politician Kiesewetter suspects the Kremlin's calculations behind Schröder's nomination for the Gazprom supervisory board.

This step should be “also seen as a move by Russia to split the German government’s position on stopping Nord Stream 2 as a potential means of sanction and thus to discredit Germany as a whole,” he told the “Handelsblatt”.

After Schröder's nomination became known, there were immediate calls for him to be deprived of the standard appointments of former chancellors.

The Association of Taxpayers (BdSt) recommended a waiver: "I appeal to Mr. Schröder to give up his state-provided office, employees and company car," said BdSt Vice President Michael Jäger of the "Bild" newspaper.

"He lobbies for Russian business interests with tax-financed German infrastructure."

The deputy general secretary of the CSU, Florian Hahn, told the newspaper that a former chancellor “cannot cash in on Gazprom and the German state at the same time”.

"Anyone who dwindles to serving Putin's interests harms Germany and is unworthy of his office."

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