Ben Wallace accused Russia of ‘dirty tricks’ following the incident, which he branded a ‘desperate’ move.
17 March 2022
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace hit out at Russian “dirty tricks” after being targeted by an impostor posing as the Ukrainian prime minister.
Mr Wallace said he became suspicious and terminated the call after “several misleading questions”.
The Defence Secretary has ordered an immediate inquiry to find out how the impostor was able to speak to him.
The PA news agency understands Mr Wallace was put through to a video call which lasted around 10 minutes.
Mr Wallace said it was a “desperate attempt” but “no amount of Russian disinformation, distortion and dirty tricks” could distract from the human rights abuses carried out during the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s forces.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she had also been targeted by a call from an impostor.
“This also happened to me earlier this week,” she said.
“Pathetic attempt at such difficult times to divide us. We stand with Ukraine.”
Mr Wallace revealed he had been targeted by the hoax call in a Twitter post.
The fact that a hoax caller was able to speak directly to the Defence Secretary raises security questions, particularly given Mr Wallace’s suggestion that Russia was behind it.
He said: “Today an attempt was made by an imposter claiming to be Ukrainian PM to speak with me.
“He posed several misleading questions and after becoming suspicious I terminated the call.
“No amount of Russian disinformation, distortion and dirty tricks can distract from Russia’s human rights abuses and illegal invasion of Ukraine.
“A desperate attempt.”
The video call was set up after an email, purportedly sent from an aide at the Ukrainian embassy, was sent to a government department and then forwarded to the Ministry of Defence.
The call was set up and Mr Wallace was put through on Teams to the “prime minister of Ukraine”, posing with the country’s flag behind him.
After initial introductions and thanks for the UK’s support, Mr Wallace is understood to have became suspicious as the man started asking questions about British policy and eventually urged the Defence Secretary to shout slogans.
The level of sophistication involved in the hoax has convinced Government sources that it was a Russian plot.
Senior Ministry of Defence sources fear Moscow may attempt to splice together Mr Wallace’s comments in an attempt to embarrass him.