Rosneft, Nord Stream and Putin's admiration: what does Gerhard Schröder do in Russia?

Gerhard Schröder has both political and long-term business relations with Russia, which the German leadership does not like.
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel was very skeptical about the intention of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to join the board of directors of the Russian Rosneft. In the Bild TV program, Merkel said that "what Schroeder does is not normal."

Former chancellor and influential politician Gerhard Schroeder, known for his close ties with Russia and friendship with Vladimir Putin, was nominated to the board of directors of Rosneft, which should be approved by the shareholders on September 29. Now the board of directors of Rosneft consists of nine people and will be expanded to 11.

Schroeder said in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Blick that he is not going to give up his new position. A wave of criticism raised in this regard by a number of German politicians in the media, Schroeder views as the machinations of supporters of Angela Merkel: "This is a political campaign in favor of Angela Merkel. They want to help me by slandering me. " Schroeder is convinced that his stay in the board of directors of Rosneft will not affect his own political activity. The German politician considers the forthcoming appointment as a good opportunity to strengthen the ties between Russia and the European Union. "I believe that Russia's integration into the world economy and integration in the energy sector are very important," the chancellor said.

In 2008, Schroeder was elected a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences of the Department of Social Sciences with a degree in international relations. In addition, Schroeder is an honorary doctor of science at St. Petersburg University (specializing in jurisprudence). He also served on the boards of directors of large companies with Russian participation.

Friend of gas workers

In December 2005, Schroeder headed the operator of the North European Gas Pipeline (NEGP), later renamed the North European Gas Pipeline Company (NEGPC). Political opponents of Schroeder found suspicious the fact that he, being an active supporter of this project during his time as chancellor, after the resignation decided to take him seriously and get paid for it. He was attacked by a wave of criticism and even there were rumors that he would give up his post. The questions were caused both by the personal interest of Schroeder and by his salary. According to German newspapers, Schroeder's salary was between € 200,000 and € 1 million. At the same time, the German newspaper Euro am Sonntag assumed that Gazprom promised to pay Schroeder € 1.5 million a year.

Gerhard Schroeder was suspected of corruption and "nepotism" with Putin, as Chancellor Schroeder often flattered about Putin's policy and called him "an impeccable democrat." German politicians - from the ruling Christian Social Union (CDU) to the opposition "green" - considered the behavior of the chancellor to go beyond the permissible. "I am dumbfounded and I do not find any words," said the head of the Green Party, Reinhard Butikofer, in an interview with the Kolner Stadtanzeiger newspaper. Later, he still found the words for his evaluation. "It's disgusting," he told the Tagesspiegel newspaper.

The issue of employment conditions was not clarified, but Schroeder's decisions and rhetoric were kept under close scrutiny by both the media and other politicians. In 2007, he was accused of lobbying for Russia's interests. He called the accusations nonsense and assured the press that as chairman of the shareholders committee, Nord Stream acts in the interests of all European countries. "Supplying Europe with gas is our common interest, and not just Russia's interest. We need gas, and Russia needs to provide export, we absolutely depend on each other, it's not one-sided, but mutual dependence, "he noted.

In 2016, Gerhard Schröder became the head of the managing board of Nord Stream 2, the operator of the second branch of the Nord Stream gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, passing through the Baltic Sea. This decision was also perceived in hostility by his political opponents.

Mediator of oil industry workers

In 2009, as an independent member, Schroeder joined the board of directors of TNK-BP, which Rosneft bought several years later (in 2013). Then the company was literally shaken by the constant conflict of shareholders - BP and Russian consortium AAR (Alfa Group Mikhail Fridman, Access Industries Leonard Blavatnik and Renova Viktor Vekselberg). Schroeder acted as a mediator, a "counterweight" in the conflict of both sides. However, the election of new members of the board of directors, which would balance the interests of the two groups of shareholders, did not save their relationship.

In 2011, BP signed an agreement on a global strategic partnership with Rosneft and the joint development of the Arctic shelf. BP CEO Robert Dudley signed an "Arctic" deal with Rosneft, completely deliberately violating the AAR's shareholder agreement on TNK-BP, Forbes was told by one of the participants in those events. AAR managed to block the deal in Stockholm Arbitration. The main argument was the fact that BP did not invite TNK-BP to take part in the "Arctic" deal with Rosneft. "If they offered, we would agree, because it was a very promising story at that time," Maxim Barsky, then deputy chief executive officer of TNK-BP, assured.

After the decision of the Stockholm Arbitration, BP was forced to invite TNK-BP to take part in joint work in the Arctic. After that, TNK-BP constantly met the board of directors and discussed whether to go along with BP and Rosneft to the Arctic. Four representatives of the AAR were "for", recalls Barsky, and four representatives of BP on the board of directors reasonably noted: "Yes, what you understand in the Arctic, you can not work there." One of the independent directors, Alexander Shokhin, was on the AAR side, the second - the former top manager of Rio Tinto James Leng - on the side of BP. The decisive was the voice of the third independent director - Gerhard Schroeder, and the parties fought for him, recalled Barsky.

Schroeder really found himself in a difficult situation and was waiting for a political signal. In an interview Putin was asked about a conflict in TNK-BP, and he replied that all disagreements must be resolved by a joint-stock agreement. For Schroeder, this was a signal - and TNK-BP voted to participate in the project. The deal of Rosneft with BP, in fact, immediately fell apart, recalls Barsky. Rosneft needed BP's offshore technology, but not a troubled partnership with Alfa. Shortly thereafter, Schröder and Leng left the company's board of directors, but that decision of the board of directors triggered the negotiations that ended with the sale of TNK-BP to Rosneft.