Germany investigates Ukraine aid military recording leak in Russia

A South Korean air force F-15K fighter jet releases a Taurus missile during a drill off the country's western coast, South Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017.
A South Korean air force F-15K fighter jet releases a Taurus missile during a drill off the country's western coast, South Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. Copyright AP/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright AP/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said authorities were looking into the matter "very carefully, very intensively and very quickly."

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German authorities have launched an investigation after an audio recording of the country's military discussing aid to Ukraine was published in Russia. 

In the 38-minute clip, officers discuss supplying Kyiv with long-range Taurus missiles - something repeatedly requested by Ukraine, but so far refused by Berlin. 

On Saturday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the leak - which is a source of embarrassment for the country's army - a “very serious matter."

He added that authorities were working to clarify the matter “very carefully, very intensively and very quickly.” 

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Germany has debated whether to send the German-Swedish cruise missiles to Kyiv. 

In January, Germany's Bundestag voted with a clear majority against the move, amid worries about the consequences if Ukraine used German weapons to attack Russia. 

FILE - Two Leopard 2 tanks are seen in action during a visit of German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius in Augustdorf, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023.
FILE - Two Leopard 2 tanks are seen in action during a visit of German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius in Augustdorf, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023.Martin Meissner/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

Some fear possible retaliation from Moscow if targets deep inside Russian territory are hit, potentially drawing Germany more directly into the war. 

Others claim the missiles would provide a much-needed boost to Ukraine's war effort, which has currently stalled and is facing renewed Russian advances. 

In the leaked recording, military officers discuss how the Taurus missiles could be used by Ukraine. 

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

In a statement carried by the German Press Agency DPA, it said: “According to our assessment, a conversation within the Air Force was intercepted. We cannot currently say with certainty whether changes have been made to the recorded or written version that is circulating on social media."

Margarita Simonyan, chief editor of Russian state-funded TV channel RT, posted the audio on social media.

“In this... recording, high-ranking Bundeswehr officers discuss how they will bomb (attention!) the Crimean bridge,” she wrote on the Telegram. 

Within the conversation, one officer mentioned a planned trip to Ukraine to coordinate strikes on Russian targets, she claimed. 

Germany is now the second-biggest supplier of military aid to Ukraine after the United States, where efforts to supply more assistance have been bogged down in Congress. 

Berlin is expected to step up support this year. 

Scholz has stalled for months on Ukraine’s request for Taurus missiles, which have a range of up to 500 kilometres. 

The chancellor has long emphasised his determination to help Ukraine without drawing the NATO member into the war, stressing that no German soldiers will go to Ukraine.

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“We will not send European soldiers to Ukraine. We don’t want a war between Russia and NATO. And we will do all we can to prevent it,” Scholz told a meeting of the Party of European Socialists in Rome on Saturday.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said the future deployment of Western troops on the ground in Ukraine was not “ruled out." 

Germany, Poland and other allied countries quickly distanced themselves from his suggestion.

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