Moscow summons German ambassador following leaked tape on supporting Ukraine


Moscow summoned Germany’s ambassador to Russia’s foreign ministry on Monday, local media reported, days after the release of an audio recording on social media purporting to show German officers discussing support for Ukraine.

The state RIA Novosti outlet broadcast footage of German Ambassador Alexander Graf Lambsdorff entering the Foreign Ministry building in Moscow, surrounded by a crowd of journalists.

Margarita Simonyan, chief editor of Russian state-funded TV channel RT, had posted the audio on social media on Friday, the same day that late opposition politician Alexei Navalny was laid to rest after his still-unexplained death two weeks ago in an Arctic penal colony.

The 38-minute recording features military officers discussing in German how Taurus long-range cruise missiles could be used by Kyiv against invading Russian forces. German authorities have not questioned the authenticity of the recording.

German news agency dpa reported that in the leaked audio, four officers, including the head of Germany’s Air Force, Ingo Gerhartz, can be heard discussing deployment scenarios for the Taurus in preparation for a meeting with the country’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius.

The discussion concludes an early delivery and rapid deployment of Taurus long-range cruise missiles would only be possible with the participation of German soldiers — and that training Ukrainian soldiers to deploy the Taurus on their own would be possible, but would take months.

The recording also shows the German government has not given its OK for the delivery of the cruise missiles sought by Ukraine, dpa reported.

There has been a debate in Germany on whether to supply the missiles to Ukraine as Kyiv faces battlefield setbacks, and while military aid from the United States is held up in Congress.

However, last week, Chancellor Olaf Scholz explained his reluctance about a Taurus delivery, saying Germany could then become directly drawn into the war.

Scholz’s explanation came after Germany stalled for months on Ukraine’s desire for Taurus missiles, which have a range of up to 500 kilometers (310 miles) and could in theory be used against targets far into Russian territory.

Over the weekend, German authorities said they were investigating the recording and how it was possible that a conversation by top German military personnel could be intercepted and leaked by the Russians.

Scholz, who was in Rome on Saturday, called it a “very serious matter” and said that German authorities were working to clarify the issue “very carefully, very intensively and very quickly,” dpa reported.

Meanwhile, Pistorius on Sunday described the audio as part of Russia’s “information war” against the West with the aim of creating discord within Germany.

Germany is now the second-biggest supplier of military aid to Ukraine after the U.S. and is further stepping up its support this year.

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