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Germany investigates after recording of its officers discussing aid to Ukraine leaked to Russia

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Warsaw, Poland –

German authorities said Saturday they were investigating after the publication in Russia of an audio recording in which German military officers allegedly discussed support for Ukraine, including the potential use of Taurus missiles.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was in Rome on Saturday, called the matter “very serious” and said German authorities were working to clarify the matter “very carefully, very intensively and very quickly.” His comments were picked up by German news agency DPA.

In this 38-minute recording, military officers discuss how long-range Taurus cruise missiles could be used by Ukraine. A debate is taking place in Germany over whether to provide the missiles, as Ukraine faces battlefield setbacks after two years of war and U.S. military aid is blocked in Congress.

Earlier this week, Scholz said he remained reluctant to send Taurus missiles to Ukraine, highlighting the risk of Germany becoming directly involved in the war. His hesitation is a source of friction within his three-party coalition and has also irked Germany’s conservative opposition.

But in the alleged audio recording, German officers discuss the theoretical possibility that the missiles could be used in Ukraine.

Germany’s Defense Ministry said it was investigating whether communications within the air force had been intercepted by Russia. A statement released by dpa said: “According to our assessment, a conversation within the Air Force was intercepted. We cannot currently say with certainty whether any changes have been made to the recorded or written version circulating on social media. »

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russian public broadcaster RT, posted the audio on social media.

“In this… recording, senior Bundeswehr officers discuss how they are going to bomb (watch out!) the Crimean bridge,” she wrote on the messaging app Telegram, adding that the conversation took place on February 19. During that conversation, she said, one of the officers mentioned a planned trip to Ukraine on Feb. 21 to coordinate strikes on Russian targets.

Germany is now the second largest provider of military aid to Ukraine after the United States and is further stepping up its support this year. But Scholz has been stalling for months on Ukraine’s desire for Taurus missiles, which have a range of up to 500 kilometers (310 miles) and could in theory be used against targets far within Russian territory.

The chancellor has long stressed his determination to help Ukraine without escalating the war and without involving Germany and NATO, emphasizing that no German soldiers would go to Ukraine.

“We will not send European soldiers to Ukraine. We do not want a war between Russia and NATO. And we will do everything possible to prevent it,” Scholz told a meeting of the Party of European Socialists in Rome on Saturday.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said the future deployment of Western troops on the ground in Ukraine was not “excluded,” a suggestion quickly rejected by Germany, Poland and other allied countries.

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