Defence Officials Slam YouTube Clip Of Ben Wallace Being Pranked

MoD dismiss video of defence secretary as "doctored garbage".

Defence officials have dismissed video of a prank call with Ben Wallace as “garbage”.

Downing Street has accused Russia of being behind hoax calls made to British ministers.

In one call, footage of which was posted to YouTube on Monday evening, the defence secretary thought he was talking to Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal.

Home secretary Priti Patel has also acknowledged having spoken to imposters, while an unsuccessful attempt targeted culture secretary Nadine Dorries.

A Ministry of Defence source dismissed the clip of Wallace as “garbage”, adding: “It’s a doctored clip.”

“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,” they said.

The “official teaser” of the call with Wallace appeared online claiming it was a “video-prank” with “Vovan and Lexus”, a pair previously attributed to a hoax aimed at the Duke of Sussex.

It suggested there would be a “full interview” within “a few days”.

Wallace is shown speaking from Poland as the caller says Ukraine wants to progress a “nuclear programme” to protect itself from Moscow, a claim Russian state media has baselessly claimed in the past.

As the call was published, Wallace suggested the invasion of Ukraine “must be going so badly for the Kremlin” if it was resorting to “video fakes”.

Lexus and Vovan have previously targeted Sir Elton John, a vocal opponent of Russia’s “gay propaganda” laws, critics of the Kremlin and world leaders including Canada’s Justin Trudeau.

Critics have accused the pair, real names Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, of having links to Russian security services, something they deny.

Downing Street pointed the finger at the Kremlin. The prime minister’s official spokesperson said yesterday: “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.

“We are seeing a string of distraction stories and outright lies from the Kremlin, reflecting Putin’s desperation as he seeks to hide the scale of the conflict and Russia’s failings on the battlefield.”

Wallace publicly acknowledged he had been targeted shortly after his call on Thursday in an attempt to get ahead of any attempt by Moscow to circulate footage from it.

He also launched a cross-Whitehall investigation to understand how he ended up on the video call.


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