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Russia claims German military leak proves Western involvement in Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine war News

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A wiretap recording of German military officials published over the weekend proves Western countries were participating in the conflict in Ukraine, the Kremlin has claimed.

The assertion was made by a spokesman on Monday, shortly after Moscow had reportedly summoned the German ambassador. The previous day, Berlin said that the release of the recording via social media was part of efforts to “destabilise” Germany.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the discussions among military officials of the potential use by Ukraine of German-made Taurus missiles to hit Russian targets, “once again highlight the direct involvement of the collective West in the conflict in Ukraine”.

Russian state-run agency RIA Novosti published a video of Germany’s envoy Alexander Graf Lambsdorff arriving at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow, declining to answer the questions of Russian journalists.

“The German ambassador … was summoned in connection with the publicised conversation of German officers about Crimea,” RIA said.

However, Berlin said that, contrary to reports by Russian state media, the envoy was not summoned.

“Our ambassador went to a long-planned meeting in the Russian foreign ministry (on Monday) morning,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Narrative

The 38-minute recording of the discussion was posted late on Friday on Russian social media. Subsequently, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson demanded on social media “an explanation from Germany”.

The officers were discussing the potential impact of the use of Taurus missiles. The conversation included aiming the missiles at targets such as the Kerch Bridge, which links the Russian mainland to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

The audio leak came amid a debate in Germany over whether to supply the missiles. Ukraine is seeking a boost to its arsenal as ammunition stocks run short, Ukraine has been seeing setbacks on the battlefield after two years of war, with military aid from the United States being held up in Congress and the EU struggling to source enough weapons to send.

However, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far refused to send the missiles, fearing that it would lead to an escalation of the conflict.

Peskov sought to press home the Kremlin narrative that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was really a defensive action against a proxy war, led by the US.

“The recording itself suggests that the Bundeswehr [German armed forces] is discussing substantively and specifically plans to strike Russian territory,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The spokesman added that it was not clear whether the German armed forces were acting on their own initiative.

‘Information war’

A German Ministry of Defence spokeswoman confirmed to the AFP news agency that the ministry believed a conversation in the air force division had been “intercepted”.

German Chancellor Scholz has promised a full investigation into the leak.

On Monday he reaffirmed his reluctance to send Taurus to Ukraine.

“You cannot deliver a weapons system that has a very wide reach and then not think about how control over the weapons system can take place,” he said. “And if you want to have control and it’s only possible if German soldiers are involved, that’s out of the question for me.”

His hesitancy is a source of friction within his three-party coalition, and of contention with Germany’s conservative opposition.

Berlin’s defence minister said on Sunday that Russia was conducting an “information war” aimed at creating divisions within Germany.

“The incident is much more than just the interception and publication of a conversation… It is part of an information war that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is waging,” Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Sunday.

“It is a hybrid disinformation attack. It is about division. It is about undermining our unity.”

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied accusations of spreading false or misleading information when faced with allegations from other countries.

In comments, Pistorius said that while the German officers discussed scenarios to use Taurus missiles, that did not mean a green light had been granted to supply weapons to Ukraine, Russian state media TASS reported on Monday.

“I think the officers did what they are there for. They are thinking through different scenarios without planning anything in any way and leaving no doubt about it,” Pistorius told reporters. “Neither I nor the chancellor have given the green light for the use of Taurus.”

He said it is “their job as leaders” to contemplate what scenarios were possible.

Germany is among the NATO countries that have supplied weaponry to Ukraine, including tanks. Russia accuses what it calls the “collective West” of using Ukraine to wage a proxy war against it; NATO says it is helping Kyiv to defend itself against a war of aggression.

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