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German Military Officers’ Leaked Audio Discuss Options To Destroy the Crimean Bridge

The Crimean Bridge connects the Crimean Peninsula, now part of Russia, with the Russian mainland over the Kerch Strait. A recorded conversation among high-ranking German Bundeswehr officers, plotting German military involvement to destroy it, risks triggering a Russian response directly against NATO member Germany. Credit: CC/

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of RT and Rossiya Segodnya, parent media group of Sputnik, published on March 1 an audio file and partial transcriptions and translations, including in English, of a leaked phone conversation that took place Feb. 19 among four high-ranking Bundeswehr officers discussing an attack on the Crimean Bridge, as well as other targets, using German-built Taurus cruise missiles, and otherwise how to operate clandestinely in Ukraine. That bridge connects the Crimean Peninsula with the Russian mainland over the Kerch Strait.

The speakers are Brig. Gen. Frank Gräfe, Department Director for Operations and Exercises at the Air Force Command in Berlin; Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, Inspector of the Luftwaffe; and two officials at the Air Operations Center of the Bundeswehr Space Command, Lt. Col. Sebastian Florstedt and Lt. Col. Udo Fenske.

We present here a translation of the proofed transcript of the conference call published March 4 by the German weekly paper, Junge Freiheit. Subheads have been added. Translation is by Daniel Platt, EIR.

Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz: Very good, very good. Yes, I wanted us to briefly talk to each other beforehand ... uhhhhm ... yes, not in the sense of who says what, but that we briefly coordinate like this, and the two comrades Florstedt and Fenske in particular know how the whole thing works. Because when you hear that the Defense Minister [Boris Pistorius] wants to, really, really wants to get deep into this thing with the Taurus, and the appointment with him is for a half hour, from what I saw, so ... we won’t be able to get the thing to fly, put it this way.

Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, Chief (in German, Inspektor) of the German Air Force. Credit: Bundeswehr

I don’t see any momentum for releasing the missiles at the moment. So it’s not like the Chancellor [Olaf Scholz] told him “Hey, look into this again and then let’s decide tomorrow.” Um, in any case I didn’t realize that, but he spoke to Pistorius again, and this whole discussion comes up over and over, and nobody really knows why the Chancellor is blocking things.

Of course, adventurous rumors arise. I want to name one. Yesterday I received a call from a journalist who is extremely close to the Chancellor. Yes, she had heard in Munich that the Taurus wouldn’t work at all. I thought, okay, who says that kind of shit? I thought she’d somehow picked this up from political circles, but someone in uniform told her that. Of course she didn’t name her source. That goes without saying. But she wanted to run with it, and publish something under the headline, “Now we finally have the reason why the Chancellor is not delivering the Taurus, because the thing doesn’t work at all.”

Naturally we tried to dissuade her, it’s total nonsense. In fact, we do test-runs all the time. The last one wasn’t that long ago. But you can see what kind of chatter there is in the room these days, and what sort of nonsense is being said. So, I just wanted to take a moment ... to coordinate with you so that this doesn’t go in the wrong direction.

So first of all, my question would be to Florstedt and Fenske. Has anyone ever spoken to you directly or did General Freuding [Major General Christian Freuding, head of the Bundeswehr’s Situation Center Ukraine] get in touch with you somehow?

Lieutenant Colonel Sebastian Florstedt: Um, negative from my side, no, I only heard from Frank [Gräfe].

Lieutenant Colonel Udo Fenske: Negative for me too. I only communicated with General Gräfe.

Gerhartz: Ah yes, all clear.

Fenske: I gave him both numbers on Sunday.

Boris Pistorius, German Defense Minister. Credit: U.S.A.F./Alexandra M. Longfellow

Gerhartz: Yes, okay, then maybe that will happen. No, that hasn’t happened yet, um, so what I’ve seen is that its half an hour ... and it could well be the case, um, that I might not be there at all. But I may have to go to the budget committee because we still have such a small issue with a price increase for the F-35 [fighter jet] infrastructure in Büchel [Air Base], which is super annoying because it’s not really a price increase, but it was simply estimated too low, and now the companies have just submitted their offers and they are way above what was estimated.

And now, of course, there is great anger. And I told them now that they should have known that would happen. As for whether I should go with you or whether I should go to the budget committee, that’s up to the Minister, because the two meetings are almost simultaneous. So it could well be that you are on your own then. And I would recommend, well, I’m not going to make a big thing of it. I’m just going to say, here, these are our two experts. One in the association, the other in the ZLO and then ... there you have it. And I would recommend, I already sent this to you through Frank, that you have a few slides with you, right? ... Templates, as they call them, so that you can visualize a little bit.

Well, you just have to put yourself in his position. Yes, we showed him at a demo show, there was a Taurus there, it was also armed ... on the carrier next to the Tornado [aircraft], but for example what it looks like when installed on a Tornado, or what a mission planning facility looks like, for example, he has very little idea.

Okay. Udo, do you have ... you have a bunch of slides, right?

Fenske: Yes. Yes, I have it available.

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