So far, Olaf Scholz has only followed Gerhard Schröder's activities in Russia out of the corner of his eye, if at all. The chancellor's office kept saying that the former chancellor was not traveling on behalf of the federal government when he met Vladimir Putin in Moscow, and that there was no contact at all with Schröder. Incidentally, Scholz repeatedly called on his SPD party friend to resign from his posts in the Russian energy industry.
According to statements by the former chancellor in an interview with stern and RTL/ntv and a press conference by Olaf Scholz on Wednesday in Mülheim, the two SPD politicians are now in open conflict – statement against statement, so to speak, and on several points.
While the chancellor, together with Siemens Energy, holds the Russian side responsible for the fact that a fully serviced turbine for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline is still in Mülheim, the former chancellor - in line with the Russian account - blames the company for this Siemens to. Schröder and Gazprom say the lack of a turbine is the reason for the reduced gas supplies. Olaf Scholz expressed open doubts about this in Mülheim: "It must always be clear to us that there can always be pretended reasons why something doesn't work." The turbine is ready. "Only one person has to say: Please send them to us."
But Scholz and Schröder also have completely opposite views on the question of how Germany's gas supply could be increased again: Schröder proposes putting the finished but highly controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, of which he sits on the supervisory board of the operating company, into operation . "If things get really tight, there is this pipeline, and with both Nord Stream pipelines there would be no supply problem for German industry and German households," Schröder said in an interview.
Scholz immediately objected on Wednesday, albeit without mentioning the name of his predecessor and former party leader. In Mülheim, the chancellor said: "The approval process is complete." Shortly before the start of the Russian war against Ukraine, Scholz and Economics Minister Robert Habeck decided in March to end the pipeline for the time being. According to Scholz, the discussion about Nord Stream 2 also makes no sense: "There is enough capacity, there is no shortage of opportunities across Europe to serve the contracts."
Significant differences can also be seen when it comes to the supply of gas in the coming winter. Olaf Scholz only announced further help for the needy last week. According to the Chancellor, no one will be left alone with their problems - a promise whose extent cannot yet be foreseen. Schröder said in an interview that he was expecting a "completely new dimension of distribution struggles," adding: "I don't want to be in the shoes of those responsible."
The Chairwoman of the Defense Committee in the Bundestag, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, criticized another statement by Schröder, according to which Russia was striving for a negotiated solution to the Ukraine war. "If he says that Putin wants a solution, then I can tell you today what the solution should look like: namely, Putin wants eastern Ukraine," said Strack-Zimmermann on "ntv Frühstart". The Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has also announced that Russia wants to wipe a change of government in Kyiv and Ukraine as an independent state from the map. "So I listen more seriously to what Mr. Lavrov says than what the former chancellor says."
The AfD chairwoman Alice Weidel, on the other hand, reacted on Twitter to the Schröder interview and the statement by the former chancellor that the Russian president wanted a negotiated solution to the war in Ukraine. If that is true, "it is not only the task of the federal government to support negotiations, but also to maintain neutrality so as not to endanger peace," said Weidel. Her co-party leader Timo Chrupalla also wrote on Twitter that Schröder was proving to be a "good patriot" in the crisis, standing up for German interests. Like Schröder, the AfD calls for the commissioning of Nord Stream 2.