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‘Disgusting’: Zelenskyy hits back at Gerhard Schröder over Russia talks remark

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lambasted controversial former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in a video address Wednesday night.

Zelenskyy said that “it is simply disgusting when former leaders of powerful states with European values work for Russia.”

Though he didn’t mention the former chancellor by name, Zelenskyy was reacting to comments Schröder had made in an interview published Wednesday, calling for negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the interview with German outlet Stern, Schröder made renewed calls for negotiations with Putin after meeting the Russian leader in Moscow last week, saying: “The good news is that the Kremlin wants a negotiated settlement.” Schröder also urged the German government to reconsider its position on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Other senior Ukrainian officials also took aim at Schröder, who maintains personal ties to Putin and has sat on the boards of Russian energy companies.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba joined the attack. “There is nothing more cynical than Putin’s henchman saying Russia is ready for peace talks,” he tweeted. “Russia remains focused on war.”

Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andrej Melnyk, said there was no reason to believe that Putin was ready for talks. Instead, he said Schröder should ask Moscow to stop shooting civilians and bombing cities, adding “that would be a better message, than what we hear from Mr. Schröder now.”

Schröder has faced strong blowback for his continued ties with Russia. The German parliament in May stripped Schröder of some of his allowances as a former chancellor, including his office space and staff. He also faces fierce criticism from fellow Social Democrats and a party committee is to decide on his potential expulsion from the party on Monday.

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