Russians intercepted Bundeswehr conversations: Is Germany participating in the war?

Russia and pro-Russian actors claim that Germany is an active participant in the war in Ukraine after they intercepted conversations of high-ranking officers of the Bundeswehr (German Army)

by Sededin Dedovic
Russians intercepted Bundeswehr conversations: Is Germany participating in the war?
© Sascha Schuermann / Getty Images

When it comes to intercepted conversations of Bundeswehr officers, many German military and political figures believe that the accusations of Western involvement in the conflict in Ukraine are overblown. Russia and pro-Russian actors believe that the intercepted conversation of the Bundeswehr officer is proof of the direct participation of the West in the war.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, points out these conversations as evidence of direct involvement of the West in the conflict, while Russian state media RT DE goes a step further claiming that German officers allegedly planned a terrorist attack on the Crimean bridge using Taurus cruise missiles.

This interpretation caused serious concern, and even the deputy president of the Security Council of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, warned of "Germany's preparations for war with Russia." Germany and Russia had relatively good relations during the reign of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but after the conflict in Ukraine and the new government led by the SPD and the Greens, the situation is very tense.

The new coalition that is in power in Germany is left-oriented and ideologically opposed to Russia. Many experts are skeptical of this interpretation by the Kremlin, considering it part of Russian propaganda. Rafael Loss, an employee of the European Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFR), emphasizes that Germany's arms deliveries to Ukraine do not make Germany a direct party to the conflict according to international law.

Similarly, Christoph Schwarz of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES) points out that Germany would not be directly involved in the conflict unless German soldiers took active combat action or extended combat operations to an EU or NATO member state.

"Essentially, it should be said that Germany's participation in the war would occur only through two scenarios, if German soldiers would carry out active and direct combat actions or, secondly, if the so-called case of alliance defense would be activated through the expansion of combat operations to an EU or NATO member state " said Schwartz.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius visit the training of Ukrainian tank crews on the German tank Leopard 1A5© Sean Gallup / Getty Images

The situation becomes more complicated when considering the issue of Taurus missiles.

Although the conversation mentions the possibility of delivering these missiles, experts point out that this does not automatically mean Germany's participation in the conflict. Loss explains that the political decision to support Ukraine has not yet been made, while Schwartz emphasizes that Ukraine can use these missiles independently, without the direct involvement of German soldiers.

Throughout history, during wars, the warring parties had their allies who helped them financially and materially, and this is not considered participation in the war unless the help is in the form of manpower and the official state army.

During the Korean War, Soviet pilots on the side of North Korea participated in an air war against the US and its South Korean allies, without the US declaring them a party to the war. Mentioning the presence of people with an American accent and Englishmen on the ground also does not necessarily mean the formal involvement of Great Britain or NATO in the conflict, experts warn.

Nowadays, many parties that are at war hire mercenary groups or simply someone out of an adventurous spirit or some of their beliefs goes to war far from their country. Loss points out that it is important what specific tasks were entrusted to those persons, while Schwartz adds that the presence of a few persons in the field is not enough to conclude about their participation in the war, unless the exact circumstances of their activities are known.

"Even if individual NATO countries decide to militarily support Ukraine, it would not automatically result in the participation of the entire alliance in the war," said Loss. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Rishi Sunak, denies claims about Great Britain's participation in the conflict.

He points out that the process of selecting targets and shooting is a matter for the Ukrainian armed forces, while the UK has only a small number of personnel in the country to provide diplomatic presence and support to the Ukrainian armed forces, including medical training.

In Russian state media and on pro-Russian channels, the content of the conversation is presented as proof that Russia is in conflict with NATO. However, experts warn that the Kremlin's goal is probably to intimidate Germany in order to prevent the delivery of Taurus missiles to Ukraine.

Loss points out that the publication of this conversation is part of Russia's propaganda strategy to undermine Germany's credibility in NATO and undermine internal cohesion, with the aim of reducing Western support for Ukraine.

"We should not be surprised that Russia is eavesdropping on the confidential conversations of German decision-makers and is willing to selectively publish them. It aims to undermine Germany's credibility in NATO and undermine internal cohesion, all with the aim of reducing Western support for Ukraine," explained Loss.

Russia Germany Ukraine