Britain criticizes Russia after officials tricked by scam video calls

LONDON (AP) – Britain accused Russia of spreading misinformation on Tuesday by posting edited clips of Britain’s defense chief speaking to a fraudster posing as Ukraine’s prime minister.

Two videos of Defense Secretary Ben Wallace speaking to the fraudster were posted on the YouTube channel of the Russian joke duo Vovan and Lexus. The British government says the Russian state was behind the scam, which it says was designed to sow false information and embarrass Britain.

A clip, preceded by photos of Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament, shows Wallace, speaking from Poland, to a caller who says Ukraine wants to advance its “nuclear program” to protect itself from Moscow, something Russian state media previously without reason has argued. .

Another shows that Wallace seems to be suggesting that Britain is “running out of our own” NLAW anti-tank weapons after giving 4,000 of the rocket launchers to Ukraine to help resist the invasion Moscow launched on 24 February.

Britain’s defense ministry said the rocks had been “fed out to obscure and manipulate the truth.”

“People should be very skeptical about reporting on and accepting any part of these Russian state-doctored clips as genuine,” a statement said. It said Britain had “enough weapons systems to defend both Britain’s national security and maintain our commitments to NATO.”

The government has launched a security investigation into how a fraudster posing as the Ukrainian prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, was put through a video call to Wallace on Thursday. Wallace said he became suspicious and hung up after the caller “asks several misleading questions.”

Another fake call was made to Interior Minister Priti Patel and Culture Minister Nadine Dorries said an unsuccessful attempt was also made to speak to her.

The British government accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of staging distractions “to hide the scale of the conflict and Russia’s failure on the battlefield.”

“It seeks to be a distraction from their illegal activities in Ukraine, their human rights violations, and therefore we will not be distracted from our purpose of ensuring that Putin fails in Ukraine,” said Max Blain, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Vovan and Lexus have previously targeted international figures, including Prince Harry, Elton John and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The couple – the real names Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov – have been accused of having links to Russian security services, a claim they reject.


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