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The blame for Russia's hacking of Ukraine missiles falls on human error, according to Germany.
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The blame for Russia’s hacking of Ukraine missiles falls on human error, according to Germany.

On Tuesday, Germany stated that a mistake by a person was responsible for Russia obtaining a recording of a phone conversation between high-ranking German military members discussing the provision of long-distance weapons to Ukraine. Germany denied that its government communication systems had been hacked.

On Friday, Russia Today, a state-owned broadcaster, released an audio recording in which four high-ranking German officers, including the air force leader, were allegedly discussing providing Taurus missiles to Kyiv.

Berlin has not challenged the truthfulness of the recording.

On Tuesday, at a press briefing in Berlin, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius stated that our communication systems have not been compromised.

The recording of the phone call within the air force was possible due to a mistake made in an individual application. Not all participants followed the correct procedure for secure dialing as instructed. It has been discovered that data was shared by a participant in Singapore who accessed the call through an unauthorized connection, using an open connection. This was confirmed by Pistorius.

The footage was released on the day that the funeral for Alexey Navalny, a prominent Russian opposition figure, took place. Navalny passed away under mysterious circumstances two weeks prior while being held in prison in the Arctic.

Russian intelligence

According to Marina Miron, a defense analyst at King’s College London’s Department of War Studies, the recording has raised inquiries about what additional information Russia was able to collect.

“What we don’t know is what else do they know. This is the one call that they decided to reveal. And probably Russia knows about all [weapons] deliveries, where they are taking place. And this is very, very serious, specifically in terms of trust when it comes to intelligence sharing between Germany and other partner nations. And I think this, of course, plays into Russia’s hands. Because the idea is not to fight with NATO kinetically — an open war — but to destabilize the alliance from within,” Miron told VOA.

Taurus missiles

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Germany has consistently declined to provide long-distance Taurus missiles to Ukraine, citing concerns of potential escalation with Moscow. However, an audio recording has suggested that high-ranking military officials support the idea of supplying the missiles to Kyiv.

Miron commented on the situation, stating that there seems to be a discrepancy between the top leadership’s beliefs about what is feasible and the desires of the political leaders. This raises the question of the nature of their relationship.

On the recording, the officers discussed the possibility of the Taurus missiles being able to strike the Kerch Bridge, which links Russian-occupied Crimea to the rest of the country.

British involvement

The recording also implied that soldiers from the United Kingdom are currently in Ukraine training the local forces on how to use the London-provided long-range Storm Shadow missiles.

The British authorities have remained quiet.

The recording was argued by Russia to demonstrate the participation of the “collective West” in the conflict.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated on Monday that there is a persistent insistence that the West is not engaged in a war with Russia, but rather only providing weapons. However, it has been revealed that there are actually Western citizens present in Ukraine. Denying this, it is argued that these individuals are merely mercenaries who have left military service. This explanation is dubious and unlikely to be the case in the majority of situations.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also stated that the audio verifies Germany’s failure to completely rid itself of Nazi ideology, a phrase that has been heavily condemned by Berlin.

Germany has contested Russia’s explanation of the discussion, stating that it is a component of Moscow’s effort to spread false information.

On Monday, government spokesperson Wolfgang Buchner stated that the Russian propaganda claiming Germany is preparing for war against Russia is absurd and infamous.

Missile impact

According to Miron, Russia is concerned about the potential disruption to its logistics and supply lines if Ukraine were to acquire long-range missiles from its Western allies.

“I believe that Taurus missiles will not be authorized by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for deployment in Ukraine.”

Miron suggested that the Russians do not want this recording to be released as it may prevent them from being able to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine. They want to avoid any difficulties that may arise from external pressure, such as the one caused by Scholz allowing the shipment of the tanks.