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UK Defence Secretary Claims He Was Targeted by 'Russian Imposter' Who Impersonated Ukrainian PM

© REUTERS / Simon DawsonBritain's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace
Britain's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.03.2022
Since 24 February, Russian Forces have been conducting a special operation in Ukraine, which Moscow says is aimed at the denazification and demilitarisation of Kiev. The move has sparked unprecedented tensions between Moscow and the West, with the latter accusing the Russian authorities of "invading" its neighbour.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was targeted by a "Russian imposter", who quizzed the official about the situation in Ukraine, The Telegraph has reported. According to the newspaper, who spoke with Wallace, the hoax was intended to extract sensitive information and "embarrass" him.

Britain's defence secretary revealed that the video call was "properly set up" – a UK government department received a request for a video call via an email in the name of an aide at the Ukrainian Embassy. Mr Wallace said he believed he had been talking to Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmygal, with the defence secretary insisting that the man looked and sounded like the Ukrainian official.

Yet, Ben Wallace said he decided to end the call when the conversation turned to security issues.

"I got suspicious and, after about eight, nine minutes, I terminated the call. I played it pretty straight throughout", he told The Telegraph.

The defence secretary said the imposter asked him when the United Kingdom would send warships to the Black Sea as well as about a potential security pact between London, which might see Ukraine get nuclear weapons. On top of that, Ben Wallace stated that he was asked about the prospect of Ukraine making a U-turn on joining NATO.

He said he told the "fake" Ukrainian PM that the UK would not deploy forces to defend Kiev and that Britain could not be involved in discussions about nuclear weapons.

Speaking with The Telegraph, Ben Wallace expressed concerns that the "imposter" will selectively edit the conversation in order to use it in "Russian propaganda". He also said that an inquiry had been set up into the incident.

The official voiced his grievances on social media. His post on Twitter prompted another UK official – Home Secretary Priti Patel – to disclose that she was a victim of an imposter as well.

"This also happened to me earlier this week. Pathetic attempt at such difficult times to divide us. We stand with Ukraine", she wrote on Thursday.

Sources close to the home secretary told The Telegraph that Ms Patel had refused to reveal the identity of the Ukrainian official the individual attempted to impersonate as well as how long she spent talking to him and what subjects the two discussed.

The Telegraph writes that the phone calls could have been orchestrated by Russian intelligence. Ben Wallace and Priti Patel may have also fallen victim to two Russian pranksters Vladimir Kuznetsov (Vovan) and Aleksei Stolyarov (Lexus). Both men claim to have spoken with multiple politician around the world, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, former European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker, and US Senator Ben Cardin.

The pranksters have also targeted celebrities such as Prince Harry, and singers Billie Eilish and Elton John.

Since 24 February, Russia has been conducting a special operation in Ukraine, which President Vladimir Putin said is mean to de-Nazify and demilitarise Kiev as well as protect the residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics from the genocide waged against them by Ukraine's leadership.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has rejected Putin's statements about Nazis being present in Ukraine and called Moscow's actions a "full-scale invasion". Western nations have thrown their support behind Ukraine and condemned Russia's actions. They also slapped the harshest sanctions on Moscow to date, triggering an unprecedented standoff with the Kremlin.
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