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Berlin on March 3 accused Russia of trying to sow division following the leak of a confidential conference call between senior German army officers discussing the possible use of German-made Taurus missiles by Ukraine.

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A recording of the call between German Air Force Commander-in-Chief General Ingo Gerhartz and Brigadier General Frank Graefe, as well as two Bundeswehr officers, was posted online on March 1 on Russian social networks, initially by Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief. of the Russian state-controlled RT media group, formerly known as Russia Today. Simonyan did not explain where she obtained the recording of the 38-minute call.

Ukraine has asked Germany to supply it with Taurus missiles, capable of hitting targets up to 500 kilometers away, giving a boost to Ukrainian forces as Kiev struggles to repel the full-scale invasion. scale of Russia.

The German Ministry of Defense confirmed on March 3, that an “Air Force-related conversation” had been intercepted.

“Whether any changes have been made to the recorded oral or written version circulating on social media, we cannot say with certainty at the moment,” a ministry spokesperson said, according to German broadcaster ARD .

Army officials told Germany’s other public broadcaster, ZDF, that they considered the recording to be authentic.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the timing of the recording’s release was not a coincidence.

“It’s about using this recording to destabilize and destabilize us,” Pistorius said at a press briefing in Berlin on March 3.

“This is part of the information war that Putin (Russian President Vladimir) is waging. There is absolutely no doubt about it,” he said at a press conference in Berlin. “This is a hybrid attack targeting disinformation. It’s about division. This is about undermining our resolve.

He said Germany should not “get caught up in Putin’s line” and that the reaction should be “in a particularly level-headed, but no less resolute, way.”

Pistorius added that he would await the outcome of a military investigation into the matter to decide what the consequences would be.

The recording includes a detailed discussion how the German military can technically support the supply of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine in the event that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz authorizes their shipment.

Scholz refused to send the missiles, fearing it would lead to an escalation of the conflict, draw Germany deeper into the fight and potentially trigger Russia’s use of nuclear weapons.

The wiretapped exchange includes a discussion of whether the Taurus would theoretically be capable of destroying the bridge connecting Russia to the Crimean peninsula that Russia illegally annexed in 2014.

The discussion also focuses on whether Ukraine could carry out a strike without the participation of German armed forces.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said March 2 that the recording indicated that Ukraine and its backers “do not want to change course at all and want to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia on the battlefield.”

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy head of the Security Council, went further, saying Germany was “preparing for war with Russia.”

The discussion between German military officers also focused on the use of long-range SCALP and Storm Shadow missiles supplied to Kiev by France and Britain, each with a range of around 250 kilometers.

The audio recording also contains a diplomatically sensitive reference to the fact that the British would have “a few people on the ground” in Ukraine as part of the Storm Shadow deployment. Britain has denied any direct involvement in the operation of these missiles.

Scholz promised a quick clarification of the incident on March 2, calling it “very serious.” But the fallout from the scandal continued on March 3, when members of the German parliament demanded consequences, including that German military leaders be trained in protected communications.

The discussion was vulnerable to wiretapping because the agents were not using an encrypted line, according to sources cited by dpa. The sources said the discussion was hosted on Webex, a conferencing platform created by US technology giant Cisco.

With reports from AFP, dpa and Bild am Sonntag

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