Russian President Vladimir Putin and his friend, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, recently acted as if they were collusion.

Putin had more troops deployed on the Ukrainian border, and Schröder demanded that Kiev stop “saber-rattling”.

The former chancellor is important to Putin.

He chairs the supervisory boards of the Russian-dominated gas and oil companies Nord Stream, Nord Stream 2 and Rosneft, and he is at the center of a Russian network of influence in Germany.

Konrad Schuller

Political correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper in Berlin.

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Whoever ties the knots here shows who is celebrating with whom.

For example, on Schröder's seventieth birthday in April 2014 in Saint Petersburg.

Russia had just invaded Ukraine when Schröder gathered three men around him: the then Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Erwin Sellering, the former Stasi officer Matthias Warnig, managing director at Nord Stream 2 and, like Schröder himself, a personal friend of Putin, and finally, guest of honour, the Russian President himself.

This text is about these men, but the scene is not Saint Petersburg, but Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.

This is where the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipelines make landfall.

Both are, according to critics, economic weapons in Russia's war against Ukraine.

Schröder and his birthday guests Warnig and Sellering are in close contact with Minister President Manuela Schwesig from the SPD.

As a former head of government, Sellering made her his successor, and when Schröder and Warnig meet them, for example at the Usedom Music Festival, it's a family affair.

Schroeder then brings his wife So-yeon Schroeder-Kim along with a Louis Vuitton bag, and Nord Stream 2 is one of the sponsors.

The former chancellor's men

Schröder is indirectly present in Schwesig's surroundings anyway.

Your finance minister and former head of the state chancellery, Heiko Geue, used to be his speechwriter, and recently another former Schröder man has played a role in Schwerin: Dieter Haller, until 2005 head of department in the chancellery, later ambassador in Riyadh and, together with Schröder, author of a greeting in a " Saudi Arabia Guide”.

Now Haller has been appointed chairman of the supervisory board of a new company in the network of Russian interests.

As the German subsidiary of Nord Stream 2, the company "Gas for Europe" is to operate the part of the Baltic Sea pipeline that runs through German waters.

This should convince the authorities that the line operator is as independent of the parent company as the rules in Europe require.

Did Schröder and Warnig personally put the former Chancellor employee in this position?

Questions from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) to Schröder remained unanswered, Nord Stream 2 only said that the company did not want to comment.

The new Nord Stream 2 replacement company "Gas for Europe" reports that the appointment of its supervisory board - including Haller - is "the responsibility of the parent company Nord Stream 2".

And at the top are Schröder and the former Stasi man Warnig.

Nevertheless, nothing will come of Haller's appointment.

The Foreign Office, his former employer, has vetoed it.

Russia's embassy is involved

Warnig plays the money messenger among the four from Saint Petersburg.

As Managing Director of Nord Stream 2, he represents an important employer in the north.

He was friends with Putin's family even before his presidency, and they helped each other privately.

Nord Stream 2 is a sponsor of numerous cultural sites, festivals and sports clubs in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

This is how influence is created.