'Scholz is a useful idiot!' Fears Germany's security gaffe just 'tip of the iceberg' after UK secrets leaked

'Scholz is a useful idiot!' Fears Germany's security gaffe just 'tip of the iceberg' after UK secrets leaked

‘Still can’t say LORD Cameron’: Richard Tice cringes over Foreign Secretary's peerage

GB News
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 05/03/2024

- 07:49

Updated: 05/03/2024

- 08:23

Russia saw the German chancellor as a 'useful idiot', sources said

The leaked German military phone call which discussed British troops’ involvement in Ukraine could be just “the tip of the iceberg” of lax security in the country, Germany’s former head of intelligence has said.

August Hanning, former president of the German Federal Intelligence Service, warned on Monday that Russians may have access to even more Nato secrets following intelligence agents’ interception of a non-secure phone call between several high-ranking officials in the German armed forces.

Hanning told German outlet Bild “this leak could have just been the tip of the iceberg”, while other sources said Russia was using German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as a “useful idiot” – and had circled Germany as Nato’s “weakest link”.

It has been a testing week for Scholz; the embarrassment of the leak and the subsequent security concerns it poses follows comments by the chancellor himself that British operatives were on the ground in Ukraine delivering – and training Ukrainian soldiers with – cruise missiles.

David Cameron and Olaf Scholz

Lord Cameron will travel to Berlin this Thursday to discuss the leaks


And Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron is set for crunch talks with his counterpart in Berlin this Thursday, with the leaks due to hang over discussions.

But the Foreign Office distanced itself from speculation that Lord Cameron and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock would butt heads in the meeting, saying: “There will be detailed discussions about both the big issues of the moment: Ukraine and Gaza.”

Downing Street said the leak of British secrets was “a very serious matter”, while a diplomatic source told the Telegraph: “Russia has identified Germany as the weakest link in the alliance and Scholz as a useful idiot to take Germany out of the equation.

“And [Russia] might not be wrong, given the way he positions Germany and his party in this debate.”


Putin, Ingo Gerhartz, Olaf Scholz

Luftwaffe head Ingo Gerhartz (inset) had said British forces were on the ground in Ukraine

Reuters/Wikimedia Commons

Luftwaffe chief Ingo Gerhartz had been caught saying in the call that Britain “have a few people on the ground in reachback” – meaning involved with technology delivery without being officially deployed.

Commentators observed that the leak – which was subsequently broadcast on Russian TV – would endanger UK troops, who are still not confirmed to be on the ground.

Officers involved in the call also discussed whether German Taurus Missiles could reach the Kerch bridge, which connects Russian-occupied Crimea and the Russian mainland – which former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev alleged meant Germany was “preparing for war against Russia”.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the leak “confirms once again that the countries of the collective West are being drawn into the conflict around Ukraine”.

Olaf Scholz's comments have not been well-received in the UK

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister stressed the leaks would not derail any British-German cooperation


He continued to allege that it was “more than obvious” that Germany was “discussing substantive and specific plans to strike Russian territory”.

Germany swiftly shut down Peskov’s claim that it was preparing a strike against Russia as “absurd propaganda”.

Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson stressed the leak would neither derail British support for Ukraine nor its partnership with Germany, and said: “It’s obviously a matter for Germany to investigate, and you’ve got Chancellor Scholz’s words on this.

“I think he said that it’s clearly a very serious matter, and that’s why it’s now being investigated very carefully. The UK was the first on our part to provide long-range precision strike missiles to Ukraine, and we would encourage our allies to do the same.

“We’ve been clear from the outset that the UK will provide Ukraine with the necessary aid, including lethal support, to defend itself and reclaim its sovereign territory.

“More broadly, we’ve got a long-standing and very close defence relationship with Germany, we’re two of the biggest providers of military aid to Ukraine, and we will continue to work together to support Ukraine in its defence against Russia.”

But any real confirmation of UK or Nato boots on the ground in Ukraine would likely be seen as a provocation by Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who last week threatened “tragic” consequences for such behaviour.

Putin’s threats follow assertions by French President Emmanuel Macron that France would not “rule out” troop deployments in Ukraine – which Britain, despite the leak, rebuffed.

You may like