Two Russian prankers held a video conference with British Secretary Ben Wallace on behalf of Prime Minister of Ukraine Denis Shmyhal. The conversation took place on March 17 and concerned sensitive issues of Ukrainian security.
The first two parts of the video call were released on March 21 and March 22. They are dedicated to the Ukrainian nuclear program and the supply of NLAW systems to Ukraine.
On behalf of Prime Minister of Ukraine, famous Russian prankers Vovan and Lexus informed Mr. Wallace that Kiev wants to resume the nuclear program and called on the UK support.
Ben Wallace seemed to be confused and noted that such a decision would not please Moscow. Defense Secretary first noted that he should discuss the topic with Boris Johnson, but then he assured that London would support any choice of Ukraine.
In the second part of the conversation Mr Wallace confirmed that more than 4 thousand NLAW anti-tank systems have already been sent to Ukraine and that another large batch of ATGMs will arrive soon.
According to Ben Wallace, the British “own arsenal is running out.”
The whole video of the conversation should be released in the coming days, according to the prankers.
Soon after the video call, UK officials tried to excuse the British Defence Secretary.
Earlier, the UK government warned that the impostors could release a doctored video of the call with the defence secretary. A Ministry of Defence source said the video was “garbage”, adding that it was a doctored clip. However, the video was almost not edited, only a few short clips were added at the beginning.
“What you don’t hear is the Defence Secretary also saying that the UK can’t have anything to do with alleged Ukrainian nuclear ambitions, because the UK is committed to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.” – The Guardian cited a defence source as saying.
The British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey revealed a few details on the issue, trying to justify the negligence of Mr Wallace.
“He was acutely aware that he was on a Microsoft Teams call, and therefore he would not ever disclose any sensitive details on a platform that can be very easily intercepted and listened into. And the call therefore was pretty bland, I think, from what Ben was explaining to me last night, when the call started to ask more pointed questions about our intentions militarily in the region, Ben knew full well that’s not the sort of question anybody would normally ask on Teams. And so he became pretty suspicious and terminated the call.”
The full conversation is yet to be released, but Lexus and Vovan have already responded to the claims of the UK Ministry of Defence, accusing them of lying in details. The second video was provided with the following notice:
“In response to reports from the Ministry of Defense about ten-minute conversation, we inform you that the full conversation with Mr Wallace lasted 22 minutes. In addition, the conference did not end abruptly, but on a benevolent mutual farewell.”
Downing Street claimed that it believed Russian state actors were responsible for the hoax, traditionally providing no details. Such pranks were claimed to be the standard practice for Russian information operations.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Russian state was responsible for the hoax telephone calls made to UK ministers last week.
“This is standard practice for Russian information operations and disinformation is a tactic straight from the Kremlin playbook to try to distract from their illegal activities in Ukraine and the human rights abuses being committed there.
This is also not for the first time Vovan and Lexus were accused of having links to Russian security services. What has never been proven. They are already famous for dozens of such pranks with top politicians in different countries, as well as with various celebrities. They are acting openly, without hiding their real names (Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov), and they are often invited as speakers to various public events.
The only issue is the inability of the UK’s top leaders to protect information from prankers who act in accordance with the well-known “tactics straight from the Kremlin textbook.”