European Parliament moves to sanction Russian politicians

European Parliament moves to sanction Russian politicians

Since Russia has invaded Ukraine, Western politicians and business leaders have rushed to leave their lucrative boardroom positions at Russian companies in protest in order to isolate the country as punishment for the war.

Some people are not quite everyone.

A former German leader and Austrian foreign minister are facing censure over their continued ties to the Kremlin.

On Thursday, the European Parliament passed a package of measures that urges the European Union to sanction politicians who still receive huge amounts of money from Russian businesses.

While the motion is not binding, its adoption is an important step to the sanctions being introduced, as it sends a clear signal that the European community will no longer tolerate a tacit support for President Vladimir Putin's regime that has characterized much of the continent's approach to the Kremlin for decades.

The motion singles out former German Chancellor Gerhard Schr der, a long-time friend of Putin, who is now facing growing pressure to leave his position as chairman of the board of directors at Russian oil giant Rosneft. It also mentions the former Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl, a Rosneft board member who invited Putin to her wedding in 2018.

The European Union has already sanctioned 80 businesses and more than 1,000 people who are facing travel bans and asset freezes or seizures in relation to the war.

The former Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schrr der are closely cooperating with Russia by serving in top positions of Kremlin-affiliated corporations, according to Markus Ferber, one of the members of the European Parliament who drafted the motion.

Such behavior is unacceptable at a time when Russia is breaking international law and committing war crimes. We ask them to step down from their positions in Russian companies. Pressure on Schr der is also building at home.

Germany s coalition government said Wednesday it would strip him of the privileges given to former chancellors, including a parliamentary office and his team of assistants. In March of this year, the team resigned in protest.

In an interview with Welt TV, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said it was unthinkable that a former chancellor who is now openly lobbying for the criminal rule of Vladimir Putin is still given an office by taxpayers.

Schr de, 78, who led Germany from 1998 to 2005, earns $600,000 a year from Rosneft, the company's accounts for 2020 show, on top of his state pension and salaries for his positions at the transnational gas pipeline projects Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2.

Some people blame Schr der for helping to increase German reliance on Russian energy, a dependency that is now being reversed dramatically and painfully.

One of his last acts as chancellor was to approve Nord Stream 2 shortly before he left office and take a job with Nord Stream AG, the company behind the now-suspended natural gas pipeline project.

Russia has earned $1 billion a day from Western fossil fuel exports a day, Ukrainian officials say. Germany is Germany's biggest customer.

Schr der has been criticised for playing down or questioning the impact of the Ukraine war. He told the New York Times in April that reports of atrocities in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha would not have come from Putin himself, although he said the war was a mistake.

Other former world leaders, such as former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and former Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho, resigned from their boardroom positions in big Russian businesses on February 24th, the day the invasion began. He said I don't do mea culpa in the interview.