April 24, 2024

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Germany says Russia intercepted a military call after an “operational error” by its officer

Germany says Russia intercepted a military call after an “operational error” by its officer

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Tuesday that a participant in a high-level military call about Ukraine, which was intercepted by Russia, mistakenly joined on an unsecured line and German communications systems were not compromised.

Pistorius added that it was likely that Russia intercepted the discussion between senior German air force officials by accident through extensive surveillance, while presenting the preliminary findings of an investigation into the leak that embarrassed Germany and raised questions about the security of its intelligence.

Last week, Russian media published an audio recording of a meeting of German officials held on the Webex platform to discuss arms deliveries to Ukraine and a possible strike by Kiev on a bridge in the Crimean Peninsula.

“Our communications systems were not hacked,” Pistorius said. “However, the reason the Air Force call could be recorded was because of an operational error made by an individual.”

The participant had called from Singapore where an air show was being held. Such an event attracted high-ranking European military officials, making it a target for Russian security services.

“So we have to assume that arriving at this Webex conference was an opportunity within a broad and dispersed approach.”

The use of Webex to make calls up to a certain security level is permitted, he said, noting that it is not off-the-shelf software but specially approved software with servers at the Bundeswehr's computing centers in Germany.

However, Germany is investigating whether issues were mentioned in the call that should not be discussed on Webex, he said.

Pistorius said that Russia leaked the call in an attempt to create divisions in Germany and between the country and its allies.

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In the call, Luftwaffe Commander Ingo Gerharz discussed with three high-ranking Luftwaffe officials the possibility of delivering Taurus cruise missiles to Kiev, which Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far publicly rejected, sparking public controversy.

Asked whether the leak might affect the position of Gerhartz, who was not the person who called from Singapore, Pistorius said that if nothing else came to light in the investigation, “then I will not sacrifice one of my best officers for (Russian President Vladimir Putin).” . Putin's games.

Pistorius said that Germany would take technical and organizational measures to ensure that such an incident would not be repeated.

He added that he spoke on Monday with his counterparts in partner countries, who expressed their continued confidence in Germany.

He said: “Everyone knows the seriousness of these eavesdropping attacks and knows that you cannot guarantee 100% protection from them.”

Germany's allies were reserved in their public reaction to the recording, although some British politicians outside government criticized German security measures.

The Times newspaper quoted former British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace as saying that the incident showed that Germany “is neither safe nor reliable.”

The Kremlin says the recording shows that the German armed forces were discussing plans to launch strikes on Russian territory, accusations Germany denies as “ridiculous.”