Two UK ministers have acknowledged that they have received prank calls related to the Ukraine war.
After reporting that a guy had called him earlier, pretending to be Ukraine’s prime minister, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace blamed Russian dirty tricks.
He added that after the “imposter” asked “many false questions,” he became suspicious and ended the call.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, subsequently tweeted that she had had a similar call earlier in the week.
Mr. Wallace, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), has requested an immediate investigation into what happened. The source of the call was not immediately known, but Mr. Wallace related it to Russia and President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
It was a “quite sophisticated” video conversation, according to a Ministry of Defence source, and it wasn’t made to Mr. Wallace’s personal phone. The fact that the call originated from “another government department” added to the source’s legitimacy.
Mr. Wallace was reportedly connected to a Microsoft Teams video chat that lasted about ten minutes.
After an email supposedly from a Ukrainian embassy assistant in London was submitted to a government department and then passed to the Ministry of Defence, the video conversation was set up.
According to the defence source, Mr Wallace was asked about Nato and the status of the Ukraine-Russia discussions during the call.
Mr. Wallace was reportedly quizzed on whether the United Kingdom would send warships to the Black Sea and whether Ukraine should be given nuclear weapons.
The military secretary was also reportedly quizzed on the possibility of Ukraine abandoning its Nato ambitions and becoming a “neutral” state.
However, defence sources believe there was an attempt to falsify or manipulate Mr. Wallace’s replies before he hung up the phone.
The calls come at a crucial time for peace talks between Ukraine and Russia, as President Vladimir Putin’s three-week-old war continues to take a toll on civilians.
While imposing punitive economic sanctions on Russia, the UK government has been providing military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
Since the commencement of the war, British and Ukrainian ministers, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, have held regular talks.