Home World Russia's Taurus eavesdropping ‘has exposed gaping hole’ in Germany's military security

Russia's Taurus eavesdropping ‘has exposed gaping hole’ in Germany's military security

The “scandal” surrounding Russia’s interception of top-secret talks about the possible use of Taurus missiles in Ukraine has exposed “a gaping hole” in Germany’s military security system, an insider has said.

The fallout from the leaked tape, featuring four high-ranking German air force officers involved in a hypothetical discussion about how the long-range cruise weapons could be used by Kyiv against invading Russian forces, has proven deeply embarrassing for the German government led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The rapidly unfolding saga took yet another twist today when Germany’s defence minister Boris Pistorius confirmed that a military officer used an unsecured phone line at a Singapore hotel to join a conference call which was hacked by Russians and leaked to the public

And speaking earlier this week, former German MEP and business leader Hans-Olaf Henkel suggested it was unlikely to be an isolated incident.

Mr Henkel, the former President of Germany’s BDI, equivalent to the CBI in the UK, told Express.co.uk: “This scandal begs three questions.

“Firstly, there must be a gaping hole in Germany‘s defence security system. How secure is the German military security system?

“Secondly, this is certainly only the tip of a huge iceberg. Russia published a highly secretive conversation between military executives for the obvious reason to embarrass the German Government. This now begs the question: How many more delicate conversations have the Russians already listen to?”

Thirdly, Mr Henkel pointed out, Mr Scholz had sought to justify his refusal to provide long range missiles by citing the risk of leading Germany into a direct confrontation with Russia.

He explained: “He claimed that programming German Taurus-missiles could only be done with German personnel on Ukrainian soil.

“He justified his claim with the alleged presence of British personnel in the Ukraine to program equivalent British long-Range missiles.

“If this turns out to be incorrect, Scholz grossly mislead the Ukraine and his own country.

“If it is correct, one wonders why PM Sunak is able to support the Ukraine with long-range missiles and Chancellor Scholz isn‘t.”

Mr Henkel concluded: “Strangely enough, German politicians and media focus only on the first two questions. It is time to focus on the other, too.”

Stuart Dee, research leader in defence and security at RAND Europe, said Germany’s reluctance to share weapons systems had been an “increasing policy challenge” in recent months.

However, he stressed that the key issue was no longer a debate about a specific weapons system, but about Russia’s ability to “exploit cracks in NATO’s unity”.

He continued: “Taurus, unlike the Storm Shadow/SCALP system shared by the UK and France, is capable of identifying layered materials. It can destroy buried targets and difficult-to-hit structures like bridges.

“It is not unique in this regard: however, its fuse cannot be manually set, whereas Storm Shadow/SCALP allows a delay to be set between impact and warhead detonation, which enables it to be used by Ukrainians.”

Chancellor Scholz was concerned that the Taurus system could feasibly target inside Russia and may require direct German involvement to do so, which could reasonably represent an escalation risk, Mr Dee said.

He added: “Deploying soldiers to directly aid in targeting is largely not necessary with the systems already provided by France and the UK. It has now transpired that the German Air Force Chief, Ingo Gerhartz, discussed the UK’s deployment of forces to do exactly this on a call held via the unclassified Webex platform.

“His comments appear to have been intercepted by Russian intelligence and publicly broadcast. While undoubtedly embarrassing for Germany, this will be seen by Russia as a propaganda triumph.

“Lessons around security must be learned, but Germany and its allies will need to be alert to attempts by Russia to inflame relations following the leak.”


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