Putin’s foreign buddies and Kremlin agents of influence in Europe start complaining about bullying. They are now perplexed as to why they are “toxic” and do not dare link them with Putin’s regime war crimes in Ukraine.
Matthias Warnig, Nord Stream 2 executive, was Putin’s close friend
Last week, the German newspaper Die Zeit published an interview with Matthias Warnig, the head of the organization that was supposed to take over the never-opened Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe.
Warnig met Vladimir Putin when he was a KGB spy while working for East Germany’s Stasi in the 1970s. That connection earned Warnig millions of dollars in the 2000s as he worked with crucial Russian state firms and served as Putin’s trusted liaison in Europe. Now, Warnig is complaining to the media about his “toxicity” and recounting conversations with Russian dictator Putin.
Warnig’s discussion with Putin about the war
Warnig detailed multiple conversations with Putin in the Die Zeit interview. In one of them, he attempted to uncover the goals of the Ukrainian war, only to be told that they were “state secrets.”
On another occasion, Warnig allegedly informed Putin that a conflict in Ukraine would be impossible to win. The Nord Stream 2 executive also said that Putin invited him to live in Moscow, but he declined because he did not want to live “behind thick walls.”
Warnig complains he’s now toxic
In the interview, Warnig said that he is now seen as toxic: people refuse to do business with him, his cards and bank accounts are blocked, and he must revert to paying for everything in cash.
Warnig said: “I’m toxic.” Who today would want to be seen as “an agent of Putin’s political and economic influence in Europe”? He claims that the few friends who remain by his side must be protected from being poisoned by his presence.
A few months after the invasion of Ukraine began, he paid another visit to Putin in Moscow. This dialogue is summarized by him as follows: “What are your objectives?” he asked Putin, who almost always spoke in German.
Warnig says he had tried to persuade Putin that the war had to end. “You talk about Donetsk and Luhansk while your troops want to conquer Kyiv. What does that have to do with anything? Do you want Odesa, Kharkiv, Ukraine, or more?” But Putin just said, “That’s a state secret.”
Stasi and espionnage past
Warning first met Putin in Dresden when he was a member of East Germany’s notorious Stasi surveillance organization. Russia’s future president was working for the KGB, according to the WSJ and Focus. Warnig began his commercial career in the 1990s, holding prominent roles at Dresdner Bank.
Warning’s profession became espionage. Lieutenant, first lieutenant, and then captain. In 1984, Erich Mielke, the Minister for State Security, bestowed the Combat Order “For Services to the People and the Fatherland” to Warnig. “I did it with passion,” Warnig recalls today.
Later, he became a member of the boards of directors of major Russian corporations, including Rosneft, until he left in the spring of 2022. Warnig also served as a director for Rossiya Bank, owned by Yury Kovalchuk, a close buddy of Putin’s. Furthermore, the German served as a director at the state-owned bank VTB and the aluminum conglomerate Rusal, as well as chairing the board of the state-owned pipeline business Transneft.
Schroeder is toxic too
Warnig is not the only foreigner who has made a career out of his relationship with Russian president Putin. Another example is former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Schroeder has served on the Rosneft board of directors and the Gazprom supervisory board.
Schroeder is also now toxic in the West due to his ties to the regime responsible for terrible alleged war crimes. His close links to the Kremlin have created significant financial issues since the beginning of Russia’s all-out war in Ukraine. Schroeder was barred from a restaurant on the German island of Nordeney last year.
Russian agents of influence face sad fate in Europe
Warnig’s fate is a perfect example of how European politicians who built ties with Putin and accepted lucrative posts at Russian state firms are now experiencing consequences. In the West, in European culture, the values prevail above the value of the Kremlin funding.
Those, who lost their souls for lucrative positions, and promoted Kremlin’s views in Europe, which were used to ease the EU’s response to Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine, must feel responsible for their actions.