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3 Mar, 2024 21:13

Germany blames leak on ‘Russian information war’

Defense chief Boris Pistorius has called the exposure of comments by his own officers “disinformation”
Germany blames leak on ‘Russian information war’

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has tried to sidestep controversy over an audio recording of senior Bundeswehr officers talking about a possible attack on the Crimean Bridge, claiming the leak stemmed from Russia’s “information war” against the West.

Speaking at a press briefing on Sunday in Berlin, Pistorius focused on the source of the leak rather than the substance of the conversation, blaming the incident on Russian President Vladimir Putin. “It is part of an information war that Putin is waging,” the defense chief said. “There is absolutely no doubt about that. It’s a hybrid attack aimed at disinformation.”

Pistorius added that the leak aimed to create division within Germany over the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Berlin is one of Kiev’s largest foreign backers, though Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been reluctant to send Taurus long-range missiles to Ukraine on concern that such weaponry could trigger a direct conflict between Germany and Russia.

“It is about division,” Pistorius said. “It is about undermining our resolve.” He added, “Accordingly, we should react in a particularly level-headed manner, but no less resolutely.”

The leaked audio, released by RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan on Friday, is from a conversation between four German Air Force officers, including the Bundeswehr branch’s commander, Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz. The officers discussed operational and targeting details for the Taurus missiles that might be sent to Ukraine, including their possible use against the Crimean Bridge. They also talked about ways to maintain plausible deniability of German involvement in such an attack, to avoid sparking a wider conflict.

The German Defense Ministry confirmed the authenticity of the 38-minute recording. The leak created a scandal in Berlin, where Scholz called it a “very serious matter” and said it was being “intensively” investigated. German lawmakers demanded enhanced counterintelligence efforts and suggested that Russia’s government likely has more such recordings.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned on Sunday that the leaked conversation proves Germany is preparing for war with Moscow. He added that such a conflict could be provoked against the wishes of the country’s civilian leadership. “History knows many examples when the military was capable of taking decisions for their civilian superiors about starting a war or just instigating.”

Pistorius claimed that the German Air Force officers who were caught on tape made clear that “the line of war participation... would not be crossed.”

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