Berlin to investigate audio about British and German missiles in Ukraine leaked to Russia

Taurus missile flies during a drill off the country's western coast in South Korea in 2017. Credit: South Korea Defense Ministry / AP

Berlin officials have promised an investigation into a recording of a conversation by top German military personnel involving missiles in Ukraine leaked by Russian state media.

The 38-minute recording features German military officers discussing how Taurus long-range cruise missiles could be used by Kyiv against invading Russian forces, as well as details of British operations on the ground in Ukraine.

The German government has vehemently rejected allegations that the conversation was an indication that Berlin is preparing for war against Russia.

MP Tobias Ellwood, former chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said the leaked audio is "worrying on a number of levels".

It comes as debate has been taking place in Germany about whether they should supply the missiles, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz saying he did not want to send Taurus missiles as that would make the country an active participant in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Germany’s defence minister Boris Pistorius has described the leak of the conversation as part of Russia’s “information war” against the West, and said it is about “undermining our resolve”.

Downing Street said investigating the leak was “a matter for Germany”, which remained “a very close Nato ally”.

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The prime minister’s official spokesperson said “it is clearly in the Kremlin’s interest to propagate misinformation” and “we should not fall into that trap”.

“We do have to treat anything coming out of the Kremlin with caution. As we know, Russia has a tendency to spread misinformation and disinformation and clearly it is in their interests to sow disunity amongst allies who are seeking to support the armed forces of Ukraine.”

While No 10 was keen to stress Western unity, it is likely that stern conversations will take place with Berlin behind the scenes.

The spokesperson declined to comment on UK operations in Ukraine, beyond saying there was a “small number of troops” providing protection for British diplomats and training for Ukrainian forces.

“Firstly, why the obvious, why wasn’t basic concept protocols followed?" Mr Ellwood said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It also revealed a tension, I think, between senior German military who want to see Taurus dispatched and the German Chancellor, who seems increasingly focused on his political survival rather than what’s best for the continent," he added.

Boris Pistorius addressed the media on Sunday. Credit: AP

Former Army chief Lord Dannatt said the German air force officers who were caught talking on the unencrypted call should be “censured pretty heavily”.

He told Times Radio: “I was very disappointed to read that story. I think the German air force officers who were talking on an open line, frankly, they should be censured pretty heavily.

“They are suggesting that there are British people in Ukraine. It’s not for you or me to comment on that. We have provided a lot of equipment to them. We provided a lot of training."

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