Bundeswehr: “Bams”: Officers communicated over an unprotected line

According to a media report, the wiretapping scandal in the Air Force is said to be due to the fact that no protected line was used for the switching conference of the officers concerned.

Bundeswehr: “Bams”: Officers communicated over an unprotected line

According to a media report, the wiretapping scandal in the Air Force is said to be due to the fact that no protected line was used for the switching conference of the officers concerned. According to dpa information, the officers spoke to each other via the Webex communication application. The Webex session was in turn sent to the soldiers' cell phones via a Bundeswehr office landline, wrote "Bild am Sonntag", citing security circles.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defense told "Bild am Sonntag": "There are indications that an insufficiently secure means of communication was used in view of the content that was obviously discussed. This is, among other things, the subject of further investigations."

Scholz promises quick clarification

After the Russian publication of a recording of discussions between German Air Force officers on the Ukraine war, Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised quick clarification. On the sidelines of a visit to the Vatican, the SPD politician spoke of a "very serious matter". In response to a question from the dpa about possible foreign policy damage, he said: "That's why this is now being clarified very carefully, very intensively and very quickly. That is also necessary."

The head of the Russian state broadcaster RT, Margarita Simonjan, published an audio recording of the approximately 30-minute conversation on Friday, which may have been intercepted. In it, senior Air Force officers can be heard discussing the theoretical possibilities of using German Taurus cruise missiles by Ukraine. According to dpa information, the conversation is authentic. The officers connected via the Webex platform.

The Defense Ministry assumes that an internal conversation between Air Force officers was intercepted. "According to our assessment, a conversation in the Air Force was intercepted. We cannot currently say with certainty whether changes were made to the recorded or written version that is circulating on social media," a ministry spokeswoman told the dpa.

Security politicians are alarmed

Security politicians demanded consequences. “We urgently need to increase our security and counter-espionage because we are obviously vulnerable in this area,” said the chairwoman of the Bundestag’s defense committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, to the editorial network Germany (RND). The deputy Union parliamentary group leader Johann Wadephul called on the federal government to tighten the regulations for the protection of communications.

Green politician Konstantin von Notz told the RND: “The question arises as to whether this is a one-off event or a structural security problem.” The chairman of the Parliamentary Control Committee demanded that he expects “immediate clarification of all background information.”

Details about Taurus and explosive statements

Air Force Inspector Ingo Gerhartz, among others, took part in the conversation. It is said to have served as preparation for a briefing for Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD). The exchange documented in the audio file addresses, among other things, the question of whether Taurus cruise missiles would be technically capable of destroying the bridge built by Russia to the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed in violation of international law. Another point is whether Ukraine could carry out the shelling without the participation of the Bundeswehr. However, it can also be heard in the recording that there is no green light at the political level for the delivery of the cruise missiles demanded by Kiev.

What is explosive is that there is talk of the British having “a few people on site” in connection with the use of their Storm Shadow cruise missiles delivered to Ukraine. There had just been anger in Great Britain over a statement made by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, which some interpreted as an indiscretion. “What the British and French are doing in terms of target control and the accompaniment of target control cannot be done in Germany,” said the SPD politician. He left it open what exactly he meant by that. However, the sentence was understood by some as an indication that the French and British would support the control of their Storm Shadow and Scalp cruise missiles, which were delivered to Ukraine, with their own forces. A spokesman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak immediately denied this: "Ukraine's use of the Storm Shadow long-range missile system and the target selection process are the responsibility of the Ukrainian armed forces."

Greens demand clarification in the Bundestag

The Green Party deputy Konstantin von Notz is calling for clarification quickly. “We expect an immediate and comprehensive clarification of the matter from the federal government and will request corresponding reports from the responsible committees and other bodies for the next week of meetings,” said von Notz in Berlin. In theory, the Interior Committee, the Defense Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee as well as the Parliamentary Control Committee (PKGr), which is responsible for monitoring the federal intelligence services, are theoretically eligible for this in the Bundestag.

Von Notz himself is PKGr chairman. The next week of the Bundestag session begins on March 11th. Von Notz also said: “It must be clarified as quickly as possible whether this wiretapping scandal is a one-off event or a structural problem.” It is becoming clear that a “real turning point” is needed for all constitutional bodies and security authorities - especially with regard to the self-protection of all security-relevant communications.

Kiesewetter: Moscow wants to stop Taurus deliveries

The CDU defense expert Roderich Kiesewetter told the news portal "ZDFHeute" with regard to the publication: "One must assume that the conversation was specifically leaked by Russia at this point in time with a specific intention. This can only be to create a Taurus To prevent delivery through Germany."

Strack-Zimmermann also sees the reason for the publication as Russia wanting to deter Chancellor Scholz from giving the green light for the delivery of Taurus. She told the RND that espionage is “part of Russia’s hybrid warfare toolbox.” It is neither surprising nor surprising that conversations are being intercepted. “It was just a matter of time before it became public.”

Kiesewetter expects that a number of other conversations were intercepted and may later be leaked for Russia's benefit. He also suspects: "This Bundeswehr leak may be a Russian attempt to steer the public debate away from the Wirecard revelations and the funeral of Alexei Navalny."

Scholz has repeatedly emphasized that he is against the delivery of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. This position is also controversial within his own traffic light coalition. The Chancellor justifies this with the danger that Germany could be drawn into the war of aggression started by Russia.

The Union's defense policy spokesman, Florian Hahn, now demanded that the Chancellor explain himself to the Bundestag's Defense Committee. From his point of view, the alleged Air Force conversation underlines that a use of Taurus by the Ukrainians would be possible even without Bundeswehr personnel on site. “If the recording is real, the Chancellor’s statements from this week are not only inappropriate, but false,” the CSU politician told the German Press Agency. Minister Pistorius was explicitly informed about the Taurus, including its possible uses. "It is therefore hard to imagine that Scholz knew nothing about this military assessment." Although he considers forward-looking military planning to be quite normal, clarification is required here. “I expect Chancellor Scholz to speak on this in the Defense Committee.”