Germany investigates a purported recording leaked by Russia of officers discussing aid to Ukraine

WARSAW, Poland — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Saturday that authorities were investigating a purported recording published by Russian state media in which German military officers discussed the country’s support for Ukraine, including the potential use of Taurus missiles.

Scholz called it a “very serious matter” in comments to reporters on the sidelines of a visit to the Vatican on Saturday, the German news agency dpa reported.

Scholz earlier this week said he remains reluctant to send Taurus long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine, pointing to a risk of Germany becoming directly involved in the war.

But in the purported audio recording, German officers discuss the possibility of the missiles being used in Ukraine.

Margarita Simonyan, chief editor of Russian state-funded TV channel RT, said the audio revealed German officers discussing strikes on the Crimean Bridge.

“In this (…) recording, high-ranking Bundeswehr officers discuss how they will bomb (attention!) the Crimean bridge,” she wrote on the Telegram messaging app, adding that the conversation took place on Feb. 19. Within the conversation, she said, one of the officers mentioned a planned trip to Ukraine on Feb. 21 to coordinate strikes on Russian targets.

Scholz said German authorities were working to clarify the matter “very carefully, very intensively and very quickly.”

Germany’s Ministry of Defense also said it was investigating whether communications within the air force were intercepted by Russia, dpa reported.

Germany is now the second-biggest supplier of military aid to Ukraine after the United States and is further stepping up its support this year. But Scholz has stalled 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 into Russian territory.

The chancellor has long emphasized his determination to help Ukraine without escalating the war and drawing Germany and NATO into it, and stressed that no German soldiers will go to Ukraine.

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