Wiretapped: Germany Again Appears to Reveal NATO Troops Active in Ukraine in Leak

16 June 2023, Schleswig-Holstein, Jagel: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD, r) is present
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Berlin has confirmed a leaked conversation between top military officers about the specifics of British soldiers assisting Ukraine in using advanced missiles took place.

A conversation that allegedly took place on March 1st involving a group of senior German officers including the head of Luftwaffe (Air Force) Generalleutnant Ingo Gerhartz [above, left] that took place on an open, unsecured line was intercepted by Russia and published over the weekend. Discussing options Germany had for deploying an advanced cruise missile against Russia in support of Ukraine with plausible deniability, one officer reflected in apparently prophetic words: “Just imagine the uproar if the media were to find out”.

Germany has since confirmed the conversation was real, but condemned Russia for using the conversation to try and “destabilise” Germany, and said it isn’t yet clear whether any elements of the conversation had been edited before it was publicly released by Moscow.

The leaked recording comes after months of pressure from Ukraine on Berlin for Germany to hand over its advanced Taurus cruise missiles, which have a long range and can navigate to their target accurately independently of external guidance, such as GPS signals, making it a valuable deep-strike bunker-buster in a conflict that has been characterised by a high degree of jamming and signal spoofing. Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz has insisted handing Ukraine such a capability would escalate the conflict and make Germany a party, rather than just a sponsor.

Indeed, just last week while trying to explain the specifics of that position Scholz appeared to inadvertently reveal the reason it would drag Germany into the war is such weapon systems are so complex they can’t simply be handed over, but need the direct involvement of NATO troops to programme them in-theatre. In doing so, Scholz exposed that the UK and France, who have already given Ukraine such weapons, must have soldiers of their own in Ukraine actively engaged in launching these sophisticated weapons at Russian targets, causing a diplomatic incident.

The words of the recording of Generalleutnant Ingo Gerhartz and his senior colleagues, if real and undoctored as suggested, appear to further confirm this situation and further reveal the efforts of the German military to find ways to deploy the missile without being exposed in this way, using a “ruse” and third parties to create plausible deniability.

Appearing to vent frustrating that the German Chancellor wouldn’t sign off on sending the advanced cruise missiles, Gerhartz said on the unsecured line: “no one knows why the federal chancellor is blocking the dispatch of the missiles — this gives rise to all sorts of outlandish rumours” and then discussed how the British had allegedly been able to use its own Storm Shadow missiles in Ukraine. He said of the mission planning system for the Storm Shadow cruise missiles: “I know how the English do it — they do the whole thing in reach-back… They have a few people on the ground; [but] they, the French, don’t do that.

“So, they QC [quality control] the Ukrainians while they’re loading the Scalp, because Storm Shadow and Scalp are in a purely technical sense quite similar. And they told me, yes, dear Lord, they’d be looking over the Ukrainians’ shoulders while they load the Taurus.”

A review of the remarks by the British Times of London newspaper notes the General’s remarks are loaded with acronyms and jargon, but suggests it broadly means the British soldiers deployed in Ukraine act as a link between military intelligence [“reach back”] providing information on targets and supervise [“QC”] the set-up of missiles ready to be launched from Ukrainian aircraft.

The British soldiers in Ukraine do this on behalf of the French already [“Scalp”, the French Storm Shadow Equivalent”] and would be able to do so for the Germans as well [“Taurus”], Generalleutnant Gerhartz is reported to have said.

Remarkably, the senior officers also discussed the importance of drip-feeding Ukraine these weapons, so not to allow it to fire too many at once and tip the balance of war in its own favour, saying Germany would do the same thing. Germany said it was determined that giving advanced weapons to Ukraine shouldn’t “change the course of the hostilities… That’s why we don’t want to send all of them. And not all of them in one batch.

“We may first send 50 missiles, and then give them another 50. This is absolutely clear, but this is big politics. I have learnt from my French and British colleagues that the situation with the Storm Shadow and Scalp missiles is the same.”

Apart from a sardonic response by Vladimir Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov that Russia would look forward to the outcome of the German government inquiry into how the leak happened — implying Moscow may learn of the outcome of the probe through another leak, rather than by a media report — Russia condemned the content of the call. Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called the alleged conversations “blatant”, and Peskov himself said it was “clear” that Germany was planning to launch strikes against Russia.

Germany denied that the contents of the call proved the country was preparing to go to war with Russia, dismissing such claims as propaganda.


Nevertheless, senior figures in Germany’s allies have condemned the second major military intelligence leak in a week which again puts a top NATO ally in a potentially serious position if the claims were proven true. As previously reported, while it is normal for Western nations to have a limited military presence in Ukraine in wartime for basic roles like embassy protection, it has been a fundamental position of NATO states that there would be no further direct deployment to Ukraine than that, a line that appears now to have been crossed.

Ben Wallace, Britain’s former defence secretary and a key part of the early push to get weapons to Ukraine in 2022 said of the leaks: “We know that Germany is pretty penetrated by Russian intelligence services, which just shows that they are neither safe nor reliable” — a major criticism of so close an ally.


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