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German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius confronted leading officers whose conversation was intercepted by Russia after a special defence meeting on Monday, and also revealed the air force chief had also joined the call on an insecure line.

A discussion of senior air force officers discussing the possibilities of a deployment of German Taurus cruise missiles in Ukraine was published by a Russian media outlet earlier this month.

Russian intelligence services intercepted the call that at least one of the officers joined using an unencrypted connection.

Pistorius on Monday said that Air Force Inspector Ingo Gerhartz was the second of the four officials on the call to join the discussion using a non-secure line.

Discussion of any consequences of this is premature however, he said as further investigations are under way.

But, he added, “I am not willing, and I want to make this clear once again, to take [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s bait here and fire my best officers, whether they made a mistake or not.”

“That would be exactly what Vladimir Putin expects from us,” Pistorius said after the meeting of the defence committee.

During the call, the officers discussed deployment scenarios for the German cruise missile if the Taurus were to be delivered to Ukraine after all.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly ruled out the supply of Taurus missiles to Ukraine, despite several requests by Kiev, arguing that he fears Germany could be drawn more deeply into the war launched by the Kremlin in February 2022.

The minister’s comments come as German lawmakers hotly debate the question of supplying cruise missiles to Ukraine, with not all those in the governing three-way coalition in agreement on the matter.

German Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius speaks to the media after the Bundestag Defense Committee's special session. Michael Kappeler/dpaGerman Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius speaks to the media after the Bundestag Defense Committee's special session. Michael Kappeler/dpa

German Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius speaks to the media after the Bundestag Defense Committee’s special session. Michael Kappeler/dpa



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