Putin’s masterful spy op leaves Scholz in the cold – POLITICO

For Putin, who after decades as Russia’s leader remains a spy at heart, there is no greater joy than outfoxing Russia’s adversaries in the dark arts (especially Germany, where he spent part of his KGB career running agents). To be fair, Putin received a major assist — however unwittingly — from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Just days before the Russians released the recording, Scholz publicly ruled out sending Taurus missiles to Ukraine, arguing that doing so would require Germany to deploy soldiers to a war zone, which, in the chancellor’s view, would risk making Germany a Russian target.

“I’m surprised that some people aren’t even moved by it, that they don’t even think about whether what we’re doing could lead to a kind of involvement in war,” Scholz told reporters in Berlin Feb. 26, suggesting (much to their chagrin) that the U.K. and France, both of which are already supplying similar cruise missile systems to Ukraine, did have personnel on the ground there.

“This is a very far-reaching weapon, and what the British and French are doing in terms of target control and support for target control cannot be done in Germany,” Scholz said. “Everyone who has looked at this system understands that.”

Everyone, it would appear, except for Germany’s senior air force brass. During their intercepted call, the generals not only discuss how the missiles could be delivered to Ukraine without putting boots on the ground, but also express confusion at Scholz’s position.

“No one really knows why the chancellor is blocking,” Gen. Gerhartz says at one point. He goes on to describe what he calls “wild rumors” about why Berlin isn’t sending Taurus, including that the missiles don’t work properly, a suggestion he dismissed as “nonsense.” The general reveals he heard the rumor from a reporter “who is extremely close to the chancellor.”

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