New Evidence the German Taurus Attack Plan Was Leaked by the US Air Force

Yves here. It’s quite a big claim that members of the US military would leak a recording of German generals scheming to strike Russia with Taurus missiles to Russia. But then again, given that the US blew up the NordStream pipeline, it’s not as if the US regards Germany as anything other that a state that needs to be forced back into line when it acts too independently. So the part that seems like a stretch is not the US taking aggressive action against Germany, but that we still have the connections (presumably military to military at the operational level) that we could toss such a juicy item over the wall.

Factors that favor this account include reports that the military has tried to get the US political leadership to understand that escalation against Russia is a road to nowhere (if you preclude nuclear war) and that it would therefore want to sabotage this dangerous scheme before our hyper-aggressive political leadership got wind of it.S

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

A little bird has materialized to sing that the record of the German generals discussing their plan to attack Russian targets with the Taurus missile was intercepted and leaked to the Russians by the Americans.

A big bird, actually. The telephone conference of German Luftwaffe chief General Ingo Gerhartz (lead image, left), one of his staff generals,  and two Luftwaffe lieutenant-colonels on February 19 was listened to by  US signals intelligence after the first meeting the Germans had with a new regional US Air Force (USAF) commander, General Kevin Schneider;  Schneider took command of the USAF Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) on February 9 after two and a half years in a senior staff post at the Pentagon under General Charles Brown Jr. Brown was promoted from USAF chief to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on October 1, 2023.  When Schneider left Brown’s staff, he took a promotion from lieutenant general to four-star general.

Schneider has never flown or staffed USAF operations against Russia. He was in Singapore for the bi-annual Singapore Air Show to demonstrate what the USAF press office called “the opportunity to sharpen ties with Singapore, demonstrate flexible aircraft capability, enable engagement with foreign partners, and expand power projection.”    His agenda of meetings with other country airforce officers is classified.

Intelligence coverage of the airshow proceedings by the US, Russia, and China was especially intense because of the participation in the show of aircraft from the warfighting states.  Russia, which has participated actively in past Singapore airshows, did not participate officially this time.

The allegation that the Gerhartz teleconference was intercepted by the Russians originated from the Germans and British, and has been amplified in US and NATO media. The first Russian report that it was US intelligence which picked up the call and then leaked it, appeared in Moscow on March 4; click to read.

What has now surfaced is the audio record and transcript of the first minutes of the teleconference, before Gerhartz came on the line.  In these five minutes, much more has been revealed by the three German officers than has been published by RT in Moscow on March 1, when the audio record and transcript began with Gerhartz’s appearance.

The full audio record in German, produced and published by RT Deutschland can be heard here.   The publication date is March 1. The voices recorded at the beginning are those of Captain Hergang, who introduced and managed the teleconference from Germany; Luftwaffe Brigadier General Frank Graefe, speaking in his Singapore hotel room and describing what he could see out his hotel window; Luftwaffe Lieutenant Colonel Udo Fenske and Lieutenant Colonel Sebastian Florstedt, who are speaking from Germany.

A report and transcript in German, auto-translated into English, was published by Tobias Augenbraun in Dirk Pohlmann’s internet platform Free21 on March 8.

The interpretation of the additional evidence by Augenbraun and Pohlmann is that “apparently, the plans were already presented to [USAF] General [Kenneth] Wilsbach [lead image, right] in October 2023, which are also the subject of further discussion… This is astonishing for the following reason: All the rest of the conversation is about how to bring Taurus closer to the Minister of Defense, Boris Pistorius… How can it be that top German generals have already presented these plans to a US general, a full 4 months… before talking about how to discuss these plans with Boris Pistorius (Minister of Defense). Something seems to have gone badly wrong with the order here. Is it normal to first talk to generals from other countries before initiating your own defense minister? Who is in charge in Germany? Is the military out of control?”

Augenbraun and Pohlmann believe the German operational plan discussed with Wilsbach last October was the Gerhartz missile attack on Russia, and that the German Defense Ministry and the Chancellery were unaware of it at the time.  This interpretation has been amplified in a report by a Brazilian who claims “here apparently we have a clear cut case of top German military officers taking direct orders regarding an attack on Crimea – part of the Russian Federation – directly from American officers in the Pacific Air Forces.”

There is no evidence of this in the record of what the Germans actually said and meant.

According to Graefe, “he’s [General Schneider] only been in office for 2 weeks and he didn’t even know what I was talking about. And that’s why I said, I’d better come by again, because that was October, when we presented all this to Wilsbach.” This is Graefe’s acknowledgement that Schneider, who was director of the USAF staff at the Pentagon from September 2021  – five months before the Russian Special Military Operation began – and then for two and a half years of the war, knew nothing at all about the German air attack plan for Russia. In Russian, that’s spelled вообще ничего.

Instead, there is evidence that Gerhartz and Graefe have been concealing their Russia-attack plan, not from their German political superiors, but from the Americans; and misrepresenting what they have been doing in Berlin in discussions with the two USAF generals, Wilsbach and Schneider. These two USAF generals are focused on China as their enemy; they have never held a staff or operational command in Germany and against Russia; their current commands are limited to the Asia-Pacific region targeting China.

Wilsbach was at his PACAF headquarters in Hawaii concentrating on Chinese targets, when Graefe says on the tape that “we presented all this to Wilsbach.” “All this” was Luftwaffe planning against China, not Russia – reason for Chinese military intelligence to have been keeping the Germans under close surveillance in Singapore, along with the Russians.

The German reporters are unaware of the Russian press report identifying the US as the source of the leak. They haven’t realized that the first five minutes of conversation reveal the special interest which the USAF had in keeping Graefe under surveillance in Singapore. Also revealed now is the USAF motive in making the Gerhartz war plan against Russia public before – not after — it had been agreed with Washington.

The timing of the newly disclosed Luftwaffe briefing of USAF General Wilsbach last October is also revealing. It was then that the Pentagon was considering what to do next in the Ukraine – and the forward budget required — after the Zelensky-Zaluzhny counteroffensive had collapsed into the rout which the Pentagon had been anticipating since the Teixeira leaks of early 2023.

In short, on display here is evidence that after the Kiev regime capitulates, the Germans are the enemy the Russian General Staff know they must defeat as the American generals look for a way of their own to retreat.

Graefe and Schneider have been on speaking terms for several years – at least since 2019 when Graefe, a one-star general, was the senior German military attaché in Washington and Schneider, with three stars, was the staff director for the USAF at the Pentagon. Even then and there, Schneider was a specialist on Asia, not Europe, not Russia.

Left, General Kevin Schneider; right, Brigadier General Frank Graefe, wearing a patch from a joint US-German air exercise.

There is also additional audio and transcript at the end of the original record which was  not translated into Russian for the initial Moscow publication. This runs for five extra minutes.

Revealed for the first time is the confidence on the part of the military officers that they can get Defense Minister Pistorius to do what they want, and that he is as eager as they are for their operations to appear at least as competent as the British and French. “You’re man enough,” Gerhartz tells Graefe, “and the minister [Pistorius] is a totally cool guy to deal with anyway. So from there….. You are the experts. It was just important to me that we just appear sober and don’t somehow smash show-stoppers into it [Crimean Bridge], which they simply don’t … that are not credible when other nations deliver Storm Shadows [British] and SCALP [French].”

As for the Americans on the battlefield, Gerhartz concedes “we have now surrendered [sic] 3 Patriot radars out of 12. There have been long faces in the FlaRak [anti-aircraft missile group]. But at the moment they are shooting down the planes and missiles that can’t hit us.”

In final words on the record, Gerhartz wishes his men good luck in their briefing with Pistorius. “Make something for visualization – not too much, always remember: They come from a completely different world, from a completely different world of thought than we who are talking here right now. So… Yes, then that’s fine…All right. Then I thank you for the round and wish everyone happy work and then I hope to see you both in Berlin. And then you, Frank [Graefe], when you’re back from Singapore. And if I can’t be there, then one of you can just contact me afterwards, because then of course I’m interested in how it went with good Boris.”

Graefe then told Gerhartz about a productive meeting he had just had in Singapore. According to the Google translation of the German, “I’ve still got something out of … I’ve just met the tailor, or… can you stay right on the line?” The word Graefe used was schneider. Either this was code for General Schneider spoken to hide from the others what was meant, or everyone knew who was meant.

“Yes, OK,” Gerhartz replied. “I’ll call you again separately in a moment.” This a signal that what Graefe had “got out of” Schneider was so sensitive, it wasn’t for the ears of the two lieutenant colonels.

This last revelation also indicates that if the Russians had intercepted the teleconference, they also know what Schneider told Graefe for Gerhartz. If the US is behind the interception and leak, they want to keep Schneider’s part top secret.

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  1. .Tom

    So at the center of all this is the Germans felt that since the Brits and French had showed off their missile toys then they must also or look incompetent? They figured Pistorius would like the plan but checked with the yanks first, who figured they’d better keep tabs on these Germans in case they actually do it and when they looked like they might they put the brakes on with the leak.

    If I got the gist about right, that’s seriously sad.

  2. vao

    Graefe then told Gerhartz about a productive meeting he had just had in Singapore. According to the Google translation of the German, “I’ve still got something out of … I’ve just met the tailor, or… can you stay right on the line?” The word Graefe used was schneider. Either this was code for General Schneider spoken to hide from the others what was meant, or everyone knew who was meant.

    There is no ambiguity whatsoever, the discussion refers explicitly to general Schneider.

    Early in the transcript, Gräfe states:

    Und ich hab diesen Schneider heute getroffen, das ist ja der Nachfolger von dem Wilsbach… und dem hab ich schon mal von unserem Plan erzählt.


    And today I met that guy Schneider, that is indeed the successor of Wilsbach… and I already told him about our plan.

    So that the appropriate translation for:

    Ich hab noch was aus … Ich hab den Schneider eben getroffen, Oder…kannst du direkt in der Leitung bleiben?

    is as follows:

    I still have something… I just met that guy Schneider, or… can you remain on line?

    It is interesting that those automatic translation tools still cannot deal with some very common colloquial turns — “der Schneider”, “der Wilsbach”, “der Franz”, “die Ursula” is a form of talking about people that is absolutely typical of everyday speech, and it also exists in latin languages.

    1. Ignacio

      True your last phrase, though if in Spanish these form of speech exists, it is considered highly uneducated. “El Schneider”, “La von der Leyen” sounds awful for people in relative high positions. It sounds like hairdressing room talk in not the “best” city quarter.

      1. renard

        Same in German, btw. The language of these ‘guys’ is awful, they sound like pubescents in a schoolyard.

      2. vao

        I would not say “uneducated”, but rather “familiar”.

        On the one hand that form of speech can be used with relatives, friends, or buddies with no demeaning intention.

        In this case, on the contrary, the German officers are referring to their North American colleagues with a deliberate offhandedness — perhaps the snide attitude of the subalterns towards the people who outrank and command them. I notice these officers do not have much respect for their minister either:

        Und wenn ich nicht dabei sein kann, dann kann mich ja einer von euch beiden einfach mal danach contacten, weil’s mich dann natürlich interessiert, wie es gelaufen ist beim guten Boris.

        “wie es gelaufen ist beim guten Boris” — “how things went with the good (guy) Boris”, meaning Boris Pistorius.

    2. Joe Well

      Translation tools do better the more computing power they have, as they evaluate the probabilities of many different possible translations based on only the words immediately around the target word, or the entire sentence, or the entire paragraph, or the entire article. The translation tools available for free don’t have much processing power behind them. That’s one reason chat gpt 4 often produces better translations, the huge amount of processing.

      In short, people evaluating based on machine translations should make sure they’re getting the best possible translation.

      1. Barry Fay

        My experience as a translator here in Berlin has been quite the opposite. An online translator called “Deep L” was much better at translating English to German than chat gpt 4 so I assume the reverse is true as well. (I almost never use machine translation because I only translate from German to English and have lived here long enough (25 years) that I am simply better at it. The English to German was a one-off – and writing final texts in a “non-mother” language is treacherous to say the least.

        1. Jessica

          God bless the Naked Capitalism commentariat.
          Thanks to all for the German lesson.
          From experience with Japanese, I agree that writing in a non-mother tongue is generally unwise.
          I figure that to write a language properly for formal text (not email to a friend or the like), one needs a college degree in a humanities or social science subject from a university in a country that speaks that language and you must have been held to the same standards as the natives (which seems to often not be the case even at elite universities in the US). Or the equivalent. (For Japanese, the folks who write clear prose all seem to have worked for one of the big newspapers for a while.)

        2. Ignacio

          Deep L is the best online tool also in English-Spanish translation even if limited in some contexts.

        3. Joe Well

          I can only evaluate translations with Spanish since it’s the only language I speak well enough. I just did a quick test with part of a blog post in Spanish and Chatgpt 4 won hands down. The DeepL (free version) translation was overly literal and stunted. As an example, there was an inappropriate use of “the” in the sentence, “the confusion will be normal”. To be clear, there are probably better options than either chatgpt4 or DeepL. If it’s true that certain translators work better for certain language pairs, that’s something that people should also take into account.

          Choosing a future path will never be easy for teenagers who have many possibilities in mind. In itself, it is very complicated for a 16 year old to decide on something specific, much less when it comes to their path in life. So the confusion at first will be normal and the internal struggle will be normal. All this is due to the classic fickleness of our generation and to be looking for the best within the wide range of professions available without even seeing what we really like. The question I faced as soon as I left school for the last time was whether what I wanted to study was what was going to help me live comfortably in later years of my life. There is the possibility of choosing something you really don’t like just because you want to have a better economy, and this is almost always the option that is usually chosen. However, for me the answer was never the most certain one possible. Mostly because of the pressure one sometimes receives from friends and family, or because of what you can read on the Internet after long hours of doubt.

          Choosing a path for the future is never easy for teenagers who have many possibilities in mind. In essence, it’s very complicated for a 16-year-old to decide on something specific, especially when it comes to their life trajectory. So confusion at first will be normal, and internal struggle will be normal. All of this is due to the classic volatility of our generation and the search for the best among the wide range of available professions without even knowing what truly interests us. The question I faced as soon as I left school for the last time was whether what I wanted to study would help me live comfortably in the later years of my life. There’s a possibility of choosing something you don’t really like just because you want better financial prospects, and this is often the option that’s chosen. However, for me, the answer was never quite so straightforward. Mostly because of the pressure one sometimes receives from friends and family, or from what can be read online after hours of doubt.

          1. AG

            I dont know ChatGPT4.
            I used Deepl on fiction and non-fiction. It´s ok with latter. It´s s desaster with former.
            Of the then four paid categories offered by deepl my trial was with category #2.

  3. Ignacio

    IMO this piece by Helmer, and yesterday’s interview with Macron are both very revealing about how the current so called leadership (political and military) thinks and operates. All these PMC types who through real or virtual meetings do their big plans which may go ahead or not depending, not on any kind of democratic control, but how the “friend” in the other side of the line has other priorities in mind or how “cool” or open minded about these plans is some other political figure. It is cheap to say it now but I had the suspicion that internal leaks couldn’t be ruled out.

    Thank you for this piece of information.

  4. Susan the other

    The only explanation that comes to mind is that we, the West, will take every opportunity to drive a wedge between Russia and Germany. We don’t even want them fighting each other directly because that would require some sort of a treaty to settle which would effectively make the entire last century somewhat pointless.

  5. Es s Ce tera

    What are the chances if you’re military leadership and conference calling from a hotel room in Singapore, that you’re actually wanting to broadcast this conversation to the whole wide world?

    I assume everyone on the call will have been deeply trained in opsec and this is quite a big opsec lapse.

    And we don’t really know what they were using to communicate do we? Isn’t that super important? If they were using approved encrypted satellite channels and equipment, then yes – this points to the Americans leaking it. If they were using Microsoft Teams or the hotel phone then they themselves, or whoever set up the call, wanted everyone and their uncle to hear this conversation.

    Either way, regardless who or how it was leaked, it would appear that someone in the German military command is wanting to try for a fourth Reich. A leak like this would complicate that plan, possibly the motivation for leaking it.

    1. Brother Ma

      It was definitely conducted on WebX from an unsecured hotel wifi or phone , according to all the sources I have read. Make of that what you will, given I agree that he -Graefe- could have gone and made the call from the German Embassy in Singapore (assume better security) . Was he lazy, stupid or wanted it to be hacked/listened to?

  6. Carolinian

    Hope this gets web circulated so we can hear more from others. It would be good to know what game the administration and the Pentagon are really playing. And it does seem to be a game and not about winning wars. After all our army bases have golf courses. It’s not exactly the Wehrmacht.

    The main thing is to appear relevant enough to continue to rake in the bucks. Here’s a new Andrew Cockburn on what our US military budget actually is.

  7. Lefty Godot

    It seemed like, from my reading of the transcript, that these guys didn’t believe attacking the Kerch Bridge with Taurus missiles would cause enough damage that the Russians couldn’t repair it easily. And that even if it did cause some more damage, ultimately it had no real military significance. Like, it wouldn’t help Ukraine turn around its declining fortunes in the war. So what is all this plotting about, an elaborate public relations stunt? Who would have put this proposal in front of the generals to begin with? It’s hard to believe they would dream up something that they sound so dubious about all on their own.

  8. Feral Finster

    So why do we read this? If the Americans wanted their german catamite to step back, they would just tell them so.

    “The German newspaper Spiegel writes that Annalena Baerbock is working on the transfer of Taurus missiles to Ukraine in order to bypass Chancellor Scholz without violating his red lines. And she suggests that the transfer could be done through the British: give them the missiles and they will give them to Ukraine. “

  9. Ignacio

    Following with the idea of this leak Mercouris today joined some dots (speculated) that Nuland’s retirement might have had something to do with the “nasty surprises” she announced shortly before being forced to leave. If these include the recent attacks on Russian border that might have as an objective nukes in a nearby Russian station that was the last straw that got her out of the Administration. Some people in the Pentagon may have become fed up with all the BS the CW is running in the conflict. I have to say i find it a realistic speculation.

  10. Willow

    As I’ve said, Palestine conflict creating strong crosswinds for Ukraine conflict. Clearly someone wants Russia checkmated by Europe & DIA not happy.

    1. Willow

      *not checkmate – escalating to keep Russia occupied/committed to Ukraine. Europe doesn’t have the brain power or resources to achieve checkmate of Russia.

  11. ChrisPacific

    I am having trouble parsing this account by Helmer – specifically, I’m not sure what the actual ‘evidence’ he’s referring to is.

    I’ve got that:
    – Various parties (including the Brazilians) believe the call shows the generals were speaking to the US before consulting their own leaders
    – Helmer thinks this interpretation isn’t supported by evidence, and instead thinks it shows the opposite: that they were forging ahead with a plan of their own without telling the US

    Then… What next? Are we meant to think that the US leaked it on purpose because they were annoyed at not being consulted? Or that the Russians had infiltrated them and got it that way?

    And what’s the ‘evidence’ in question that the US did that? From Helmer’s account I got that they have a possible motive and the timing is suspicious. Well and good, but that’s not evidence.

    If there’s something in the article I missed that lays this out, can someone point me to it?

    The supposed Russian source (that established it was a US leak) actually links back to another lengthy Helmer piece that also offers a lot of speculation. Possibly it’s in there somewhere but I don’t have the patience to try and untangle that one as well. And if it’s in there, why not repeat it here?

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