Germany accuses Russia of ‘information war’ after military recording

Russian media aired a recording of a call in which German officers were heard discussing supplying weapons to Ukraine

Germany’s minister for defence said on Sunday that Russia was conducting an “information war” aimed at creating divisions within Germany, his first reaction to the publication in Russia of an audio recording of a meeting of senior German military officials.

Russian media on Friday published a 38-minute recording of a call in which German officers were heard discussing weapons for Ukraine and a potential strike by Kyiv on a bridge in Crimea, prompting Russian officials to demand an explanation.

On Saturday, Germany called it an apparent act of eavesdropping and said it was investigating.

“The incident is much more than just the interception and publication of a conversation ... It is part of an information war that [Russian president Vladimir] Putin is waging,” minister for defence Boris Pistorius said on Sunday.


“It’s about division, it’s about undermining our unity, so we should react in a level-headed but not less determined way,” Mr Pistorius said after a hastily-convened special meeting of the defence committee in Berlin.

“This is clearly about undermining our unity,” he said. “It is about using this recording to destabilise and unsettle us,” adding that “we should not fall for Putin’s line”.

In the recording obtained by the media platform Russia Today, German air force chief Ingo Gerhartz and highly-ranked officers discussed a possible delivery of German Taurus missiles to Kyiv, and their potential impact.

“On Friday, immediately after it became known, I contacted the federal office for military counter-intelligence and instructed them to investigate the incident completely,” Pistorius said, adding that he is getting regular updates.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied accusations of spreading false or misleading information when faced with allegations from other countries.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesperson said on social media on Friday: “We demand an explanation from Germany,” without detailing its particular concerns.

Russia's embassy in Berlin has not responded to an emailed request for comment.

Participants in the call discuss the possible delivery of Taurus cruise missiles to Kyiv, which German chancellor Olaf Scholz has publicly so far firmly rejected. They also talk about the training of Ukrainian soldiers, and possible military targets.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov spoke to journalists on Saturday about “cunning plans of the Bundeswehr [German armed forces], which became apparent due to the publication of this audio recording. This is a blatant self-exposure.”

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, said on Sunday the recording indicated that Berlin was preparing to fight Moscow.

Der Spiegel and the German press agency DPA reported separately that the recording has been determined to be authentic, while potentially doctored, and that the conversation had been conducted on the commercial, non-encrypted video-calling platform Webex – with invitations sent to mobile phones via a Bundeswehr office landline.

Pistorius said it was no coincidence that the revelation had come amid funeral services for Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny and new revelations about the Wirecard scandal.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has clearly positioned himself against the deployment of German Taurus missiles in Ukraine, causing tensions among some Nato members. – Reuters/Bloomberg