German Defense Minister: A senior officer also joined a leaked call on an unsecured line


German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius confronted senior officers whose conversation Russia intercepted after a private defense meeting on Monday, and it was also revealed that the air force chief also joined the phone call on an unsecured line.

A Russian media outlet earlier this month published a discussion of senior Air Force officers discussing the possibilities of deploying German Taurus cruise missiles in Ukraine.

Russian intelligence services intercepted the call, which was joined by at least one officer using an unencrypted connection.

Pistorius said on Monday that Air Force Inspector Ingo Gerhartz was the second of the four officials contacted to join the discussion using an unsecured line.

He explained that it’s premature to discuss any consequences of this matter as further investigations are underway.

But he added: “I am not prepared, and I want to make this clear again, to take Putin’s bait here and fire my best officers, whether they made a mistake or not… This will be exactly what Vladimir Putin expects from us,” Pistorius said after the defense committee meeting.

During the call, the officers discussed scenarios for deploying a German cruise missile if the Taurus was delivered to Ukraine.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly ruled out supplying Taurus missiles to Ukraine, despite numerous requests from Kiev, arguing that he fears Germany will be drawn deeper into the war launched by Russia in February 2022.

Chancellor Scholz once again clearly refused to supply Ukraine with Taurus cruise missiles.

“My clarity stands,” Scholz said at a press conference in Berlin on Monday.

“My job, as an advisor and as head of government, is to be precise and not raise any misleading expectations… My answers are clear in return,” he was asked whether, like Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, he saw swapping missiles with Britain rather than direct delivery as an option.

Baerbock had previously described a swap, in which Germany would deliver Taurus cruise missiles to Britain and London would deliver more Storm Shadows missiles from its stockpiles to Ukraine in return, as an option.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron didn’t rule out such an approach, according to an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Chancellor Scholz stressed that he doesn’t consider the deployment of Taurus missiles justified, which is why this issue was neither direct nor indirect.

Ukraine requested missiles with a range of up to 500 kilometers from Germany in May.

Scholz first rejected the request in October and then again two weeks ago.

On Monday, Scholz reiterated his position of refusing to hand over the weapons system to the Ukrainians, saying that he feared that Germany would be drawn into the war.

The statements come at a time when German lawmakers are fiercely discussing the issue of supplying Ukraine with cruise missiles, with not all members of the ruling tripartite coalition agreeing on the issue.

There are indications that some members of the three ruling parties – the Social Democrats, the Greens and the pro-business Free Democratic Party – may be toeing the government line and supporting the supply of missiles to Kiev.

Marie-Agnes Struck-Zimmermann, of the Free Democratic Party, who chairs the Defense Committee, agreed to a similar proposal made by the opposition two weeks ago, and said she would do the same this time.

The leader of the opposition Christian Democratic Party in Germany, Friedrich Merz, questioned the possibility of exchanging missiles, but said he was open to that in principle.

“This may be the second-best solution to achieving the goal, but it’s not particularly honorable,” Merz said.

Other German lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties had stronger words for Scholz’s continued refusal to supply advanced Taurus missiles, which are less obvious to detect and capable of hitting targets 500 kilometers away.

CDU foreign affairs expert Norbert Röttgen and Green Party politician Anton Hofreiter strongly criticized Scholz in an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

They accused Chancellor Scholz of catastrophic defeatism and severely weak communication.

Commenting on his arguments against supplying missiles, they criticized the advisor for spreading fear and terror among the population.

They said Scholz’s claim that the Taurus shipments would make Germany a party to the war was factually and legally incorrect.

The issue may come to a head on Thursday when the opposition aims to call a vote in the Bundestag to supply Ukraine with Taurus missiles.

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