There is no lack of Putin-Empathizers in Germany. Social democrats, like former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, together with a number of prominent businessmen serve as Putin's firs line of defense against meaningful European sanctions for the Anschluss of Crimea:
The most egregious Putin-Versteher is Gerhard (Gerd) Schroeder (Chancellor 1995 to 2005), who chairs the board of Nord Stream, the northern-route natural gas pipeline from Russia to Europe. Nord Stream’s majority owner is the Russian state gas company, Gazprom. Nicknamed “Gas-Gerd” – a word play on “gas oven” – Schroeder’s official one million dollar honorarium makes him an obedient employee of Mr. Putin. As a member of Gazprom’s own board, Schroeder cannot plead ignorance of Putin’s use of Russian gas as a weapon of foreign policy, as he ups the pressure on Ukraine through higher gas prices.
“Gas-Gerd” has proven well worth his remuneration as the spokesperson for Russian moral equivalence. Although he admits that Putin’s annexation of Crimea violates international law, he, while chancellor, ordered German jets into Serbian-Kosovo skies without United Nations’ approval (What a sin!). No difference at all between the two events, claims the former chancellor. We must accept our own guilt, if we deign to condemn Putin’s takeover of Crimea.
Schroeder also complains that the West has not sufficiently respected Russian “sensitivities.” Putin’s troubled psyche must be understood against NATO encirclement and the historical backdrop of Ukraine as the birthplace of the Russian state, says Schroeder. The annexation of Crimea by Russia is no different from our own support of Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia.
Per Schroder, we should equate the documented mass killing of Kosovo Albanians with possible concerns of Crimean Russians, enflamed by nonstop Russian propaganda, that the Kiev Nazis do not like them and will ban Russian in their daily intercourse, although Crimea’s constitution made it an official second language. Again no real difference between Kosovo and Crimea! Let’s move on. Nothing to see here, says “Gas-Gerd.”
No wonder Chancellor Angela Merkel is furious with Schroeder. What better way to pull the rug from under her negotiations for meaningful sanctions with her coalition partners from Schroeder’s own SPD party. Merkel’s threats to tighten sanctions ring hollow with Putin-Verstehers like Gas-Gerd around. Schroeder’s antics would be the equivalent of Barack Obama trying to negotiate Iranian sanctions with a U.S. former president as a board member of the Iranian National Oil Company, pleading that we must understand the Ayatollahs need a bomb to use against the Western infidel!
Schroeder represents the political wing of the pro-Russian lobby.
There is no dearth of business counterparts. The head of Siemens just paid a visit to Moscow where he demonstratively held meetings with a Russian official placed on the United States’ sanctions list, declaring that “temporary turbulence (should not) inordinately influence our long-run planning.” The president of the Union of German Industry warned that “economic sanctions will harm both sides” (What an insight!)
Read the entire Forbes article by Paul Roderick Gregory here