Steinmeier was from 1999 to 2005 as head of the chancellery of Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD), and from 2005 to 2009 and 2013 to 2017 as Foreign Minister, more involved in current politics than his former counterpart Federal President Heinz Fischer in Austria. Through Schröder, he was always very close to Moscow’s ruler Vladimir Putin and his long-time head of foreign affairs, Sergey Lavrov.
After heavy criticism in the past few weeks, above all from the Ukrainian ambassador Andriy Melnyk, he felt compelled to publish self-critical words: “We failed with the establishment of a common European house in which Russia is included. We failed with the approach of including Russia in a common security architecture.”
Von Heinz Fischer, on the other hand, comments on his earlier commitment to Russia as follows: “I’m not uncomfortable with it because it corresponded to the relationship at the time. Whether every single gesture is judged differently today in the light of history, that can of course be. But if the point of view is changed now, then I won’t do it,” said the former head of state on Ö1 in mid-March.