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Germany accuses Russia of seeking to divide Europe with leaked call

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

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Germany accused Russia on Monday of leaking an intercepted recording of German military discussions about how to support Ukraine against the Kremlin's invasion in an attempt to divide Europe.

Russian media last week published an audio recording of a meeting of senior German military officials held by Webex discussing weapons for Ukraine and a potential strike by Kyiv on a bridge in Crimea.

Germany has confirmed the authenticity of the 38-minute call, saying it is investigating what it called an apparent act of eavesdropping by Russia that was part of an "information war".

Participants in the call discuss the possible delivery of Taurus cruise missiles to Kyiv, which Chancellor Olaf Scholz has publicly so far firmly rejected. They also discuss how France and Britain are delivering their own cruise missiles.

While there has been little public response so far from allies to the recording, analysts say it is likely to strain ties given it is another major security breach and reveals the extent of German reluctance to get too involved in the war.

"This hybrid attack aimed to generate insecurity and divide us," a government spokesman said on Monday. "And that is exactly what we will not allow. We are in constant contact with our partners."

Moscow accuses the "collective West" of using Ukraine to wage a proxy war against Russia. NATO says it is helping Ukraine to defend itself against a war of aggression.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters the leak was a matter for Germany to investigate and Britain would continue to work together with Germany to support Ukraine.

Still, he added that Britain was the first country to provide long-range precision strike missiles to Ukraine

"And we would encourage our allies to do the same."

GERMAN AMBASSADOR SUMMONED?

The Kremlin said on Monday the recording showed Germany's armed forces were discussing plans to launch strikes on Russian territory, and questioned whether Scholz was 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," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"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.

He said both scenarios were "very bad. Both once again emphasise the direct involvement of the countries of the collective West in the conflict around Ukraine."

The German government spokesman called accusations of war preparations "absurd" propaganda.

Russia's TASS news agency said the Kremlin on Monday summoned Germany's ambassador to demand an explanation for the military discussions.

A spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry denied the ambassador was summoned, saying his appointment in the Russian foreign ministry had been planned for some time.

The envoy, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, left the foreign ministry without speaking to reporters after attending the meeting.

It is the second time in the past week that Moscow has pounced on what it sees as evidence of Western intent to attack Russia directly.

After French President Emmanuel Macron floated the possibility that European nations could send troops to Ukraine, allies of Putin said last week that any French troops would meet death and defeat like Napoleon's soldiers who invaded Russia in 1812.

Putin said in a speech on Thursday that Western countries risked provoking a nuclear war if they sent troops to fight in Ukraine.

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