Germany’s Scholz vows probe into ‘very critical’ leak of military talks on Ukraine struggle | EUROtoday

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Saturday promised a full investigation after what seemed to be a recording of confidential military talks on the Ukraine struggle was posted on Russian social media, in a probably big embarrassment for Berlin.

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The head of Russia’s state-backed RT channel, Margarita Simonyan, on Friday posted the 38-minute audio recording of what she claimed had been German military officers on February 19 discussing placing Crimea.

“What is being reported is a very serious matter and that is why it is now being investigated very carefully, very intensively and very quickly,” Scholz mentioned on a go to to Rome.

In the recording, discussions will be heard on the doable use by Ukrainian forces of German-made Taurus missiles and their potential affect.

Topics embrace aiming the missiles at targets resembling a key bridge over the Kerch strait linking the Russian mainland to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

The discussions additionally cowl using missiles supplied to Kyiv by France and Britain.

Experts consulted by Der Spiegel journal mentioned they believed the recording was genuine.

A defence ministry spokeswoman informed AFP it was investigating “whether communications in the air force sector were intercepted”.

‘Sworn enemies’

Kyiv has lengthy been clamouring for Germany to offer it with Taurus missiles, which may attain targets as much as 500 kilometres (about 300 miles) away.

Scholz has up to now refused to ship the missiles, fearing that it could result in an escalation of the battle.

“If this story turns out to be true, it would be a highly problematic event,” Green social gathering politician Konstantin von Notz informed the RND broadcaster.

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“The question arises as to whether this is a one-off incident or a structural safety problem,” he added.

Speaking at a diplomatic discussion board in Turkey on Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov mentioned the recording signifies that Ukraine and its backers “do not want to change their course at all, and want to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia on the battlefield”.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova demanded that Germany “promptly” present explanations for the dialogue.

“Attempts to avoid answering the questions will be regarded as an admission of guilt,” she mentioned.

“Our age-old rivals — the Germans — have again turned into our sworn enemies,” former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy head of the Security Council and the overseas ministry, wrote in a Telegram submit.

Taurus missiles

The acquisition of German Taurus missiles would offer an enormous increase for Ukraine as Kyiv struggles to fend off Russia’s invasion.

France and Britain have equipped Kyiv with SCALP or Storm Shadow missiles, each of which have a variety of about 250 kilometres.

But Scholz mentioned final week that Germany couldn’t justify matching British and French strikes in sending long-range missiles to Ukraine and supporting the weapon system’s deployment.

“This is a very long-range weapon, and what the British and French are doing in terms of targeting and supporting targeting cannot be done in Germany,” Scholz mentioned, with out specifying precisely what he meant.

Britain denied that it had any direct involvement in working the missiles.

“Ukraine’s use of Storm Shadow and its targeting processes are the business of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson mentioned in a press release to AFP.

Roderich Kiesewetter, from Germany’s opposition conservatives, warned that additional recordings may additionally be leaked.

“A number of other conversations will certainly have been intercepted and may be leaked at a later date for Russia’s benefit,” he informed broadcaster ZDF.

It will be assumed “that the conversation was deliberately leaked by Russia at this point in time with a specific intention”, particularly “to prevent Taurus delivery by Germany”, he mentioned.

According to Der Spiegel, the videoconference was held not on a secret inner military community however on the WebEx platform.