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Germany’s Security Leak Sparks An International Scandal

Germany is the centre of major international controversy as a leaked military discussion marks its most significant security breach since the Cold War. The leaked call contains sensitive machinations about the war between Russia and Ukraine and has exposed Germany's potential military policy towards the conflict. Germany now has to grapple with the ramifications of this leak due to its impact on global security.

The leak

On Friday, March 1, 2024, Margarita Simonyan, the head of Russia Today, published a 38-minute recording on her Telegram channel detailing Germany's plans concerning Ukraine. In the call, German Air Force Chief Ingo Gerhartz discusses the delivery of Taurus cruise missiles with three other high-ranking officials. German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz has firmly denied the delivery of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. They also discussed training Ukrainian soldiers and potential strikes by Ukraine on a bridge in Crimea.

The call also discussed the operations of allies such as the UK and France. They detail how British soldiers were deployed in Ukraine and how both countries sent missiles for Ukraine to use against Russia.

One official also discussed how the UK handles the satellite data for France to program missiles. There was a suggestion that Britain could do the same for Germany, aligning with Berlin's policy of not being overtly involved in the war.

On Saturday, March 2, 2024, German officials verified the phone call's authenticity and said it was an 'act of eavesdropping'. Scholtz vowed to investigate the matter.

On March 5, 2024, German Foreign Minister Boris Pistorius presented the initial investigation results. He said the breach could have occurred when an official joined the WebEx call from a non-secure line in Singapore. He added that it is possible that Russia intercepted the call by chance through satellite surveillance.

German Reaction

Pistorius also said the security breach was a 'hybrid attack' intended to divide Europe and generate insecurity. The Kremlin has been accused of spreading misinformation on multiple occasions.

The German government has said it will decide whether to take disciplinary action against the officers heard on the call. When asked about Gerhartz's future, Pistorius stated that he may have to sacrifice some of his best men to 'Putin's game', even though Gerhartz was not the one to dial in from Singapore.

Russian Reaction

Russia's embassy in Berlin did not respond to an email from German authorities about potential espionage. Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated, "We demand an explanation from Germany." However, they did not detail what Germany needed to clarify. She also said that avoiding answering would be considered an admission of guilt.

Russia has said that the call could represent German intentions to be directly involved in the war or that Scholtz has lost control of his government.

Moscow has said that the 'West' is using Ukraine as a proxy to fight a war against Russia. Former Russian President Dimitry Medvedev said the call indicated that Berlin intended to fight Moscow.

International Reactions

Many allies have not made a statement regarding the issue, but the leak is a massive problem for Germany and the rest of Europe.

A spokesperson for the British government said that the leak investigation is Germany's responsibility and that they will continue to work together to support Ukraine. The spokesperson also confirmed the information about the UK sending missiles to Ukraine, adding that other allies should also do so. This could be a powerful statement, indicating that the UK believes the breach was a part of Russian espionage and is implicitly trying to push Germany to get more involved in the war.

The Times also quoted the UK's former Defense Secretary Ben Wallace saying the leak showed Germany was 'neither secure nor reliable'.

Germany is also one of the few countries reluctant to join the war. While most of Europe has been ready to do whatever it takes to support Ukraine, Germany has not been too willing to be at the forefront of the war. In January of 2023, Germany was the subject of the ire of many of its allies for not sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Ultimately, this leaked call gives many members of the international community the scope to question Germany's intentions with Ukraine and the country's stance on the war. It has thrust Germany into the spotlight for the wrong reasons and could be a turning point in German involvement in the Russian-Ukrainian War. As the investigation into the security leak unfolds further, diplomatic tensions will continue to escalate. The repercussions will be felt for a while and could alter the course of the war.

Edited by: Vidhi Dujodwala

Image Source: The Japan Times

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