(ST. PETERSBURG) — Vladimir Putin and his political allies may not be making any new friends in the West, but his bromance with former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder appears to still be going strong.
The former leader celebrated his 70th birthday at a bash in St. Petersburg on Monday night, where he was photographed looking chummy with the Russian president.
Not only are they old friends — but the pair apparently have close business ties as well. Schroeder runs a pipeline venture that transports Russian gas to Germany, according to the BBC.
Schroeder and Putin’s embrace was called “completely irresponsible” by the Andreas Schockenhoff, the deputy chief whip of Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Party. He told The Telegraph that the photos “play into Putin’s propaganda machine. Mr. Schroeder knows that and he must take responsibility for it.”
The photos were taken the same day President Obama announced targeted sanctions against a list of high-profile Russians and companies in the hope it would encourage Putin to support free and fair elections in Ukraine next month.
While he may have the company of Schroeder, Putin lost his prime spot at the table with current world leaders last month when he was suspended from the G-8 meeting following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
President George W. Bush once famously remarked that he met Putin and was able to look him in the eyes and “get a sense of his soul.”
Whatever it is Bush saw in the former KGB agent’s soul must have left an impression. In 2007, Putin visited the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. When they weren’t talking shop, the two leaders went fishing and enjoyed the spoils of the seaside town.
Earlier this month, when Bush unveiled portraits of his old world leader pals, he even debuted one of Putin.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Michael Pearson, Faith Karimi and Ian Lee, CNN
Sarah Anderson, Deseret News