Pistorius: Initially no personal consequences after the wiretapping incident

As of: March 3, 2024 6:05 p.m

Defense Minister Pistorius warns of a possible split after the publication of the intercepted Bundeswehr conversation. Much is still unclear. The CDU politician Kiesewetter demands Report from Berlin Consequences of the incident.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has called for unity after Russia published the leaked conversation between German Air Force officers. “It’s a hybrid disinformation attack – it’s about division, it’s about undermining our unity,” said the SPD politician. “We mustn’t fall for Putin.”

That’s why we have to react prudently, “but no less decisively.” He rejects any personal consequences at this point. “That would be far too high,” said Pistorius. However, it must be clarified whether secret content was discussed and whether the correct format was chosen for the conversation with the Webex conference service.

In his opinion, the majority of the content of the conversation had already been publicly known. So far he has no information about further leaks or eavesdropping on further telephone calls. At the beginning of next week, the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) will present an initial report with information on the exact background to the incident. Only then can you decide on the consequences, including in personnel matters.

Kiesewetter: Russia apparently had access data

On Friday, Russian state television published a recording of a confidential telephone conference between high-ranking Bundeswehr officers on the Internet. In it you can hear Air Force chief Ingo Gerhartz talking to three subordinates about the possible use of German “Taurus” cruise missiles in Ukraine against the Russian attackers. The recording states that this was intended to prepare a briefing for Pistorius.

How Russia got hold of the conversation is still unclear. The CDU defense politician Roderich Kiesewetter assumes that Moscow obtained the access data for the meeting. “Unfortunately, there are increasing indications that a Russian participant obviously dialed into Webex and that it was obviously not noticed that there was another dial-in number there,” said the deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Control Committee in the ARD broadcast report from Berlin.

Kiesewetter relies on professional sources without further narrowing down the origin of the information. In addition, there are already initial indications of this online, said the CDU politician. Official findings that support Kiesewetter’s statement are not yet available.

The timing was deliberately chosen

The publication of the conversation last Friday was certainly a deliberate choice, emphasize both Defense Minister Pistorius and CDU politician Kiesewetter. “Nobody seriously believes that it was a coincidence,” said Pistorius, referring to the publication shortly after the funeral of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and the publication of the research on Wirecard and Jan Marsalek. Putin’s aim is to drive domestic politics apart. “In the end, it is crucial that we remain closed,” said the SPD politician.

Kiesewetter also explained in Report from Berlinthe leaked conversation was obviously intended to distract from the Marsalek revelations.

Kiesewetter for Committee of Inquiry

Germany must expect that Russia has penetrated the security systems much more broadly than previously known, said the defense politician. In general, the security authorities do not deal with security issues sensitively, explained Kiesewetter. “We need more systems that have hardened protective devices. The Federal Office for Information Security is just as much in demand as the managers who set up such video conferences,” said the CDU politician.

The strategic culture must change. Sensitive communication should only take place via protected networks. “And why that wasn’t the case here – the Ministry of Defense has to clarify that.” He supports the proposal from CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt, who calls for a committee of inquiry. A special investigator who would clarify the overall structure is also conceivable, said Kiesewetter.

“That is of course the right of parliament,” said Pistorius, referring to Dobrindt’s call for a committee of inquiry. “I don’t have to judge that.” However, one must keep an eye on the implications and assess whether the incident justifies a domestic political discussion, “with everything that will then be discussed publicly.”

Pressure on Taurus issue

After the publication, the pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz increased in the “Taurus” discussion. Kiesewetter demanded Report from Berlin cruise missiles again for Ukraine. The intercepted conversation showed that a delivery was not impossible and “just had to be well prepared”. “We would like to know why the Chancellor is not taking up the advice of the armed forces here,” said the CDU politician. It is incomprehensible why the Federal Chancellor is ignoring the arguments of the Air Force officers.

In the published conversation, the four officers 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.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz justified his rejection of a “Taurus” delivery by saying that Germany could then be drawn into the war.

Georg Schwarte, ARD Berlin, tagesschau, March 3, 2024 6:32 p.m

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