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Germany investigates Russian reports of recorded German military officials

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An audio recording published in Russian media is reported to be a conference call of high-ranking German military officials talking about weapons for Ukraine

Germany is investigating an audio recording published in Russian media reported to be a conference call of high-ranking German military officials talking about weapons for Ukraine, sparking concerns of espionage in Germany and calls for clarification from Russia.

A German defence ministry spokesperson said on Saturday that it couldn’t confirm the authenticity of the recording, but the Federal Office for Military Counterintelligence Service was investigating the matter and all necessary steps would be taken.

Margarita Simonyan, a Russian state TV journalist and the head of Russia Today, was the first to publish the audio on Friday, which was also posted on her Telegram channel.

Reuters listened to the 38-minute recording but could not independently confirm its authenticity.

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

Scholz, speaking on a visit to Rome, told journalists the potential leak was “very serious”.

“That is why it is now being clarified very carefully, very intensively and very quickly. That is also necessary,” he said.

Russia’s embassy in Berlin didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment on Saturday about allegations of possible spying. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on social media on Friday: “We demand an explanation from Germany.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei 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”, Lavrov said.

Roderich Kiesewetter, a member of the German parliament, told the Handelsblatt newspaper that he considered the reports to be authentic.

“Russia is of course showing how heavily it uses espionage and sabotage as part of the hybrid war. It is to be expected that much more was intercepted and leaked in order to influence decisions, discredit and manipulate people,” he was quoted as saying.

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