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UKRAINE

German Ex-Chancellor Schröder in Moscow for Ukraine peace bid: reports

Germany's former chancellor Gerhard Schröder reportedly met Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Moscow in a bid to get the Russian leader to end his invasion of Ukraine. 

German Ex-Chancellor Schröder in Moscow for Ukraine peace bid: reports
Gerhard Schröder in Berlin in December. Photo: dpa | Christoph Soeder

News outlet Politico, which did not name its sources, said the meeting was coordinated with Kyiv and that Schroeder had travelled to Russia via Turkey. 

The German government led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who like Schroeder is a Social Democrat (SPD), was not informed about the trip, government sources told AFP. 

Bild daily, also citing unnamed sources, said that Schröder had told only his closest confidants about the meeting. 

SPD co-leader Lars Klinbeil said on broadcaster ZDF that his party did not know anything about the trip, but added that “anything that helps to end this terrible war is welcome.”

Schröder’s wife Soyeon Schröder-Kim posted late Thursday on Instagram a photograph of herself with eyes closed and hands clasped like in a prayer, with the Kremlin in the background. 

Schröder, who was Germany’s chancellor from 1998 to 2005, has come under fire at home and abroad over his refusal to resign from his job as chairman of the board of directors at Russian oil giant Rosneft despite Moscow’s assault of Ukraine. 

The 77-year-old is also chairman of the shareholders’ committee at Gazprom’s subsidiary Nord Stream, and is due to join the supervisory board of Gazprom itself in June. 

Schröder has issued a statement condemning the invasion as unjustified but saying that dialogue must continue with Moscow. 

Furious over his refusal to cut his Russian ties loose, his aides have walked out on him. 

Scholz has also come out publicly to urge Schröder to leave his Russian jobs, saying it is “not correct” for him to hold those offices. 

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UKRAINE

Germany authorises manufacturers to send Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine

Germany said it had issued authorisation on Friday for Leopard 1 tanks to be sent to Ukraine, in a further boost for Kyiv as it seeks heavier weapons to counter Moscow's forces.

Germany authorises manufacturers to send Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine

Berlin has already said it will provide Ukraine with 14 Leopard 2s from its military stocks, but manufacturers also want to send tanks they have in storage.

“I can confirm… that an export licence has been issued,” government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit told a regular press briefing when asked about Leopard 1s.

He declined to give further information, saying more details would likely emerge in the coming days and weeks.

First entering service in the 1960s, the Leopard 1 is the forerunner of the more advanced Leopard 2, which is widely used by armies across Europe.

READ ALSO: Germany gives greenlight for Leopard tank deliveries to Ukraine

German magazine Der Spiegel reported that it concerned 29 Leopard 1s, which were in storage at a military manufacturer.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper meanwhile reported that two manufacturers want to refurbish dozens of Leopard 1s to send them to Ukraine, although they have faced problems in procuring ammunition.

Last month, Berlin finally agreed to sending the powerful German-made Leopards to Ukraine, following weeks of sustained pressure from Kyiv and its European allies.

Under German law, Berlin has to approve the export of the tanks, even in cases when other countries who bought them want to re-export them.

While scores of nations have pledged military hardware for Ukraine in recent weeks, Kyiv has been clamouring for the more sophisticated Leopards, seen as key to punching through enemy lines.

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