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MEPs demand European politicians with ties to Russian businesses such as former German Chancellor Schroeder resign or face sanctions
European politicians still holding ties to Russian businesses, such as Germany’s former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Austria’s ex-Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, should be added to the EU sanctions list, a broad coalition within the European Parliament demands, the German Die Welt daily reported on Wednesday, citing a draft resolution it obtained. According to the document, any former top European official who refuses to sever ties with Russian businesses or continues to receive funding from Russia should be blacklisted.
The coalition of MEPs that includes the conservative European People’s Party (EPP), the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), as well as the Liberal group Renew Europe and the Greens, has called on the EU Council to “extend” the EU personal sanctions list “to include European board members of large Russian companies and politicians, who continue to receive Russian funding.” So far, the blacklist has only included Russian officials and “oligarchs” the EU deems to be close to the Kremlin.
The draft resolution, which is to be discussed at the EU parliament on Thursday, is “a real signal from Europe. Former chancellors must continue to consider the well-being of their state after their time,” Stefan Berger, a German MEP from the EPP, told Die Welt.
The four alliances agreed on the draft following “lengthy debates,” according to Die Welt. Together, they comprise 70% of all MEPs, meaning the draft resolution is likely to be passed on Thursday.
Initially, only Schroeder’s name was put in the draft, Die Welt reported. The former German chancellor is the head of Russian oil giant Rosneft’s supervisory board. He refused to resign from this position after Russia started its military operation in Ukraine, an event that prompted some former European officials to leave their positions with Russian companies.
The S&D group, which includes Schroeder’s Social Democratic Party of Germany, did not oppose the move but instead pointed to other European politicians who also kept their positions in Russia even after the military action in Ukraine got underway.
Kneissl’s name was the only other one revealed by Die Welt besides Schroeder’s. The Austrian politician, who is not affiliated with a party, is a member of the Rosneft supervisory board led by the German ex-chancellor. It is unclear whether there are any other European politicians on the list.
If the EU parliament passes the resolution, it would then need to be approved by the representatives of the 27 EU member states in the EU Council, which could happen on Friday, according to Die Welt. Neither Schroeder nor Kneissl has commented on the development so far.
Schroeder has faced pressure from politicians and officials in Germany to cut ties with Moscow amid the Russian military operation in Ukraine. His fellow party members called for his expulsion from the ranks of the German Social Democrats and even his favorite soccer team, Borussia Dortmund, demanded that he condemn Putin.
The former chancellor has so far resisted the pressure, maintaining that one “cannot isolate a country like Russia in the long run, neither politically nor economically” and Germany would need Russian energy to “keep the economy going.”
Kneissl has also called Russia a vital part of the global economy earlier in May. She has denied that the conflict between Moscow and Kiev should be blamed for the energy crisis and soaring prices in Europe and elsewhere. “The entire make-up of the crisis was here long before,” she said at that time.
Russia attacked its neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.