The Kremlin on Monday said the content of leaked conversations between German officials discussing potential strikes on Crimea proved Western countries were participating in the conflict in Ukraine.

The leaks came as an embarrassment for Berlin, which is under pressure to supply Taurus missiles to Kyiv struggling with ammunition shortages.

The conversations "once again highlight the direct involvement of the collective West in the conflict in Ukraine," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

A 38-minute recording of talks between German officers was posted late on Friday on Russian social media.

The officers were discussing the possible use in Ukraine of German-made Taurus missiles and their potential impact.

Topics included aiming the missiles at targets such as a key bridge over the Kerch strait linking the Russian mainland to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.


Germany said it believed the recording featured an "intercepted" conversation in the air force division but could not tell whether or not it had been edited. 

- 'Plans to strike' -

The Kremlin spokesman said the recording "in itself suggests that the Bundeswehr is discussing substantively and specifically plans to strike Russian territory."

Peskov was speaking as the German ambassador to Russia was summoned to the foreign ministry in Moscow.

Ambassador Alexander Graf Lambsdorff left the ministry building without giving any comment, Russian news agencies reported. 

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Orlov, 71, appealed a two-and-a-half-year term he was handed after calling Russia a "fascist" state and criticising its Ukraine campaign.

The day before, Germany had accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to sow disunity with the leak.

"It is about using this recording to destabilise and unsettle us," said German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, adding that he "hoped that Putin will not succeed".

Pistorius said he was not aware of any further leaks at the army and added that he would await the result of a military probe into the case before drawing any conclusions. 

Kyiv has long been clamouring for Germany to provide it with Taurus missiles, which can reach targets up to 500 kilometres (about 300 miles) away.


- 'Information war' -

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far refused to send the missiles, fearing that it would lead to an escalation of the conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia.

With Russia's offensive in Ukraine in its third year, Kyiv has ramped up its pleas for more military support from allies. 

On the frontlines, its soldiers are outgunned and outnumbered and ammunition shortages are being felt.

France and Britain have supplied Kyiv with SCALP or Storm Shadow missiles, both of which have a range of about 250 kilometres.

But Scholz on Monday said that Germany could not justify matching British and French moves in sending long-range missiles to Ukraine and supporting the weapon system's deployment.

Part of the conversation in the leaked recording however appeared to call into question Scholz's explanation on why he could not provide Kyiv with the missiles.

The acquisition of Taurus missiles would provide a massive boost for Ukraine as Kyiv struggles to fend off Russia's invigorated push on the frontlines.

With politicians in Germany urging answers over the wiretap, Pistorius warned that the leak is "part of an information war that Putin is carrying out".


"We should not fall for Putin's line," he said.

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