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Bundeswehr bugged: Union questions Scholz’s credibility

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Bundeswehr bugged: Union questions Scholz’s credibility

As of: March 3, 2024 7:21 a.m

Russia overhears a discussion between German officers – and the Union sees indications in the conversation that Olaf Scholz is dealing with false information. She is now trying to focus on the Chancellor.

After the German Air Force’s wiretapping scandal, there are calls for better security precautions – and considerations for an investigative committee in the Bundestag.

“The reports are strange in two respects,” CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt told Spiegel. “On the one hand, that security-relevant conversations are obviously being overheard by the Russians, and on the other hand, that the Chancellor may be justifying his rejection of Taurus deliveries with a misrepresentation.”

“Committee of inquiry not excluded”

The Chancellor must explain this to the Bundestag, demanded Dobrindt. “In this situation, a committee of inquiry cannot be ruled out.”

The CDU defense politician Roderich Kiesewetter argued similarly: It must be clarified “why the Chancellor goes public with false claims when he says that German Bundeswehr participation on site is necessary,” said Kiesewetter on ZDF. The CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen sees it the same way. In the “Tagesspiegel” he stated that Scholz had suffered serious damage personally: The question arises as to “why the Russian secret service and perhaps even a higher authority are now causing such massive damage to the Federal Chancellor by publishing the conversation.”

Scholz justified his rejection of a “Taurus” delivery by saying that Germany could then be drawn into the war. “We must not be linked at any point or place to the goals that this system achieves,” he said at the beginning of last week.

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In the now published conversation, four officers – including Air Force Chief Ingo Gerhartz – discuss operational scenarios for the German cruise missile if it were to be delivered to Ukraine. In it they stated that rapid delivery and rapid deployment would only be possible with the participation of German soldiers – and that “Taurus” training of Ukrainian soldiers for a mission under their own direction would be possible, but would take months.

Not a secure communication platform

Their conversation was published on the Russian platform “Russia Today”. How Russia obtained the recording is now being investigated by the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD). According to information from the dpa news agency, the officers spoke to each other via the Webex communications application. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defense told “Bild am Sonntag”: “There are indications that an insufficiently secure means of communication was used in view of the content that was obviously discussed. This is, among other things, the subject of further investigations.”

The newspaper wrote, citing security circles, that no protected line was used. The Webex session was sent to the soldiers’ cell phones via a Bundeswehr office landline, it said. It will be checked what level of security the details mentioned in the meeting were subject to. It also needs to be clarified whether the Webex variant used is at least approved for the exchange of information with the lowest level of secrecy, “classified information – for official use only”.

Calls for better security measures

Politicians across party lines are now calling for better security precautions, and not just for the Bundeswehr. The vice-chair of the Green parliamentary group, Agnieszka Brugger, who specializes in security issues, warned of further Russian sabotage actions in the coming months. “The events of the last few days show once again how Vladimir Putin is trying to have a massively negative influence on our open society, especially in Germany, through disinformation, destabilization and espionage,” she told Spiegel magazine.

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Her party colleague Konstantin von Notz, who heads the parliamentary committee to control the secret services, has also called on the government to clarify the matter in the relevant Bundestag committees. “It must be clarified as quickly as possible whether this wiretapping scandal is a one-off event or a structural problem,” explained von Notz. It is becoming clear that a “real turning point” is needed for all constitutional bodies and security authorities – especially with regard to the protection of all security-relevant communication.

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