The government is examining: Are there spy balloons over Germany?
The federal government only provides clarity on one point with regard to possible espionage activities from the air. “We have no balloons,” said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defense on Monday at the federal press conference. While Germany itself does not have this type of military reconnaissance, the question remains open as to whether China was also active over the Federal Republic with its alleged weather research balloons.
According to a US government official, who was quoted by the Reuters news agency over the weekend without naming him, the balloon with a diameter of a good 20 meters that was shot down off the east coast of the United States on Saturday evening was part of an entire espionage network that has been collecting data worldwide for some time.
Chinese balloons have been spotted over several continents in recent years, “including East Asia, South Asia and Europe,” Washington said.
Berlin hopes that there will be no escalation
According to the spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office, the federal government wants to have been informed by the American side about the current case in the States, which, according to the deputy government spokesman Wolfgang Büchner, it registered “with concern” and linked with the hope that it “does not lead to an escalation in the American-Chinese relationship”.
On the other hand, the government does not want to have any information about possible past overflights over its own territory. A spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior said it was still “too early” for an assessment of Germany. “The competent authorities are checking this,” said Büchner on Monday in Berlin.
In addition to the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Transport, these also include the Ministry of Defence, which together send representatives to the National Situation and Management Center for Air Security in Uedem, North Rhine-Westphalia.
Airspace surveillance is also coordinated within NATO, which, for example, raises the nearest alarm squad in the event of unidentifiable aircraft – the two German Eurofighter squadrons are stationed in Neuburg an der Donau and in Wittmund in Lower Saxony.
“NATO has eyes in the sky”
The NATO command center in Brunssum, Netherlands, therefore issued a clear warning over the weekend. “NATO has eyes and fighter jets in the sky,” it said on Twitter. “NATO stands ready to address the full range of aerial threats.”
According to information from the Tagesspiegel, the Ministry of Defense assumes that such a balloon flight over several European NATO countries would not have gone unnoticed despite the great height far above the range of passenger aircraft – especially since the objects, as recently in the USA, can also be seen with the naked eye are.
“The Air Force has no information in this regard,” said a spokeswoman for the Air Force when asked by the Tagesspiegel about possible sightings over Germany.
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