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Germany promises investigation after leaked military talks published

Peter Oliver in Berlin


German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised a full investigation into the circulation online of a recording that appears to contain senior German Generals discussing sending weapons to Ukraine and how to launch attacks on Crimea. Margarita Simonyan, head of the Russian TV Network RT posted the 38 minute recording on her telegram channel.

On Saturday the German ministry of defense said they believed they were dealing with a private conversation that had been intercepted. A Defense ministry spokesperson told the AFP news agency: "We are currently unable to say for certain whether changes were made to the recorded or transcribed version that is circulating on social media."  

In the recordings, the generals can be heard discussing the possible use of German-made Taurus cruise missiles by Ukrainian forces and what potential impact they could have in the conflict. One part of the discussion focuses on Taurus missiles targeting the Kerch Strait Bridge linking the Russian mainland to Crimea.


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The Generals also speak about the missiles provided to Ukraine by France and the UK. Chancellor Scholz has said that he does not want to send Taurus missiles to Ukraine as he fears they could escalate the conflict.

Speaking on a visit to Rome about the news of the leak, the Chancellor called it "very serious" and promised that all efforts were being made to look at this recording so that the details could be "clarified very carefully, very intensively and very quickly." 

The Russian Embassy in Berlin has declined to comment on the news, but the Foreign Ministry in Moscow issued a statement saying, "We demand an explanation from Germany."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in Türkiye right now at a diplomatic conference, and he has said that the recordings show that Ukraine's Western partners "do not want to change their course at all and want to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia on the battlefield."

Perhaps the most robust response has come from former Russian President and now deputy head of the country's security council Dmitry Medvedev, who said that the German leak showed "Our age-old rivals – the Germans – have again turned into our sworn enemies."

This is a massive scandal in the German press with the news magazine Der Spiegel reporting that the Generals may have used a WebEx program instead of military incription. This is believed to be how the intercept was able to happen.

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann from the Free Democrats, part of Scholz's ruling coalition and the Chair of the defense committee in the German parliament, said that Moscow had released this recording with apparent intentions that Scholz was being "warned against" sending Ukraine Taurus missiles.

Speaking with the Funke Media Group, she added: "We urgently need to increase our security and counterintelligence because we are vulnerable in this area."

Germany's Opposition Conservatives have expressed concern that there may be more recordings out there.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has commented on the recording. /Reuters
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has commented on the recording. /Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has commented on the recording. /Reuters

Roderich Kiesewetter a member of the Bundestag for the CDU told the Handelsblatt Newspaper: "Russia is, of course, showing how heavily it uses espionage and sabotage as part of the hybrid war. It is to be expected that much more was intercepted and leaked to influence decisions, discredit and manipulate people."

All of this heaps more scandal on Scholz's embattled government, a three way coalition of the Social democrats Green Party and the pro business Free Democrats that seems to lurch from a new problem week to week. So far most of those have been economic with the country mired in recession. Adding national security issues into the mix seems likely to inflict another slump in the polls for the current government in Berlin.

Germany promises investigation after leaked military talks published

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Cover image: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised a full investigation. /Reuters/Michaela Stache/File Photo

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