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Secret Ukraine Conflict Talks Leaked, Putting Germany in Spotlight

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On March 2nd, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz vowed a thorough probe following the spread of a confidential recording on Russian social media, capturing a discussion among German military officials about the conflict in Ukraine, placing Berlin in a precarious position.

The German Defense Ministry acknowledged to AFP the likelihood that a conversation within the Air Force division had been captured externally. The authenticity of the content, now circulating on social media, remains under scrutiny for potential alterations, a ministry spokesperson disclosed.

Margarita Simonyan, head of the state-endorsed Russian channel RT, disclosed a 38-minute audio clip purportedly of German military personnel deliberating over possible assaults on Crimea during a February 19th videoconference. The leaked discussion touches upon the utilization of German-produced Taurus missiles by Ukrainian forces and their expected effectiveness on strategic targets, including a vital bridge over the Kerch Strait that connects Crimea to the Russian mainland, territory Russia annexed in 2014.

Further, the conversation extended to missiles supplied to Kyiv by France and Britain. Ukraine has been vocal in its request for Germany to supply Taurus missiles, capable of hitting targets up to 500 kilometers away, a request Scholz has declined fearing escalation.

Scholz, addressing the issue in Rome, described the incident as gravely serious, warranting swift and meticulous investigation. German broadcaster ARD labeled the incident a debacle for German intelligence, while Der Spiegel revealed the discussions occurred on the WebEx platform rather than a secure military network.

Konstantin von Notz of the Green party highlighted the potential implications if the leak is substantiated, underscoring the gravity of the situation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov interpreted the leak as evidence of Ukraine and its allies’ unwavering stance against Russia, demanding Germany address the content of the discussions.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, sought immediate clarifications from Germany, hinting that evasion would imply guilt. Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president, now deputy head of the Security Council, remarked on the historical rivalry with Germany, suggesting a renewal of enmity.

The acquisition of Taurus missiles by Ukraine could significantly bolster its defenses against Russia, complementing the SCALP and Storm Shadow missiles already received from France and Britain, respectively. However, Scholz maintained Germany’s stance against supplying long-range missiles to Ukraine, citing differences in military engagement compared to Britain and France.

The British Ministry of Defence distanced itself from the operational use of the missiles supplied to Ukraine, emphasizing Ukrainian autonomy in deployment decisions. Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, leading the defense committee in Germany’s parliament, inferred Russia’s intentions from the leak, pressing for enhanced security and counterintelligence efforts in Germany.

Roderich Kiesewetter, a member of Germany’s opposition conservatives, cautioned about the potential for more leaks, suggesting that further conversations might have been intercepted for Russia’s strategic advantage. The unfolding situation underscores the intricate geopolitical dynamics and the heightened state of alert in intelligence and security protocols amidst the ongoing conflict.

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