May 19, 2024

German Air Force chief Ingo Gerhartz has ordered troops to tighten communications security after an embarrassing incident in which Russian spies recorded a conference call between four top commanders.

A recording of the intercepted conference call, in which the senior officers discussed the possible deployment of Taurus cruise missiles against Russian forces in Ukraine, was published by Russian state broadcaster RT.

The incident was deeply embarrassing for the German government.

Ukraine has repeatedly requested Taurus missiles from Germany, but German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far refused to deliver the long-range weapons, citing concerns about a further escalation of the conflict.

Gerhartz on Tuesday issued new instructions for using cross-network voice communication, the online WebEx conference call platform and the secure use of email. Dpa has obtained a copy of the order.

“The need to protect information, especially in the context of national and alliance defence, has become even more important as digitalization continues to advance,” Gerhartz wrote in the letter to his soldiers.

On Monday, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius confirmed that Gerhartz was one of two senior officers on the call who connected via a non-secure line.

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