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Leaked audio indicates Germany’s intention to strike Russia, Kremlin says

The chief of the German Air Force Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz (L) is seen in this undated file photo.

Russia says leaked talks within the German military on the Ukraine war about potential strikes on Russian targets raises questions regarding Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz being in “control of the situation.”

“The recording itself says that within the Bundeswehr, plans to launch strikes on Russian territory are being discussed substantively and concretely,” the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said to reporters at a news briefing on Monday, in reference to the armed forces of Germany.

“Here we have to find out whether the Bundeswehr is doing this on its own initiative. Then the question is: how controllable is the Bundeswehr and how much does Scholz control the situation? Or is it part of German government policy?” Peskov said.

Russian media first published the audio recording last week of the meeting of senior German military officials discussing weapons for Ukraine and a potential strike by Kiev on a bridge in Crimea.

On the leak, military officials spoke about ways German officers could supply Ukrainians with targeting information without appearing to be directly involved in the conflict.

Earlier this week, the German chancellor said sending German Taurus missiles and troops to operate them was problematic.

The Kremlin spokesman said both scenarios were “very bad. Both once again emphasize the direct involvement of the countries of the collective West in the conflict around Ukraine.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has demanded that Germany “promptly” provide an explanation over the leaked audio. She says it proves the West plans to wage a “hybrid war” against Russia. 

The Kremlin on Monday summoned Germany’s ambassador to demand an explanation over the matter, Russian media reported.

But a spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry denied the ambassador had been summoned, saying he had a prior meeting in the Russian Foreign Ministry that had been scheduled before. The German envoy, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, left the foreign ministry without speaking to reporters after the meeting.

This is the second instance in a week that Russia has raised the issue of the West’s intention to attack Russian targets.

President Emmanuel Macron of France has also suggested the possibility of deploying French troops to Ukraine to fight alongside Kiev forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said sending Western troops to fight in Ukraine risks provoking a nuclear war.

Germany’s Scholz has vowed a swift probe into the leaked audio recording. He said the leak, which the Bundeswehr has confirmed to be real, is “a very serious matter.”

“It will now be investigated very carefully, very intensively, and very quickly.”

A Germany military official has said that assessment shows “a conversation in the air force division was intercepted. We are currently unable to say for certain whether changes were made to the recorded or transcribed version that is circulating on social media.”

The leaked audio also contains reference to the British having “a few people on the ground” in connection with the deployment of their Storm Shadow cruise missiles delivered to Ukraine.

The leaked virtual meeting did not take place via a secure line, but the Webex platform, according to the German news magazine Der Spiegel.

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