Defence Secretary called by imposter pretending to be Ukrainian PM

Ben Wallace blasts Russian ‘dirty tricks’ after spending 10 minutes in Teams video chat with fake Ukrainian PM who asked him to shout slogans while being filmed after duping aides with an email – and Priti Patel admits she too was targeted

  • Wallace said he became suspicious and ended call after ‘misleading questions’
  • Defence Secretary blasted ‘desperate attempt’ at ‘disinformation, distortion’
  • Security questions over how he was able to get through to senior minister 

Ben Wallace hit out at Russian ‘dirty tricks’ today after he and Home Secretary Priti Patel were targeted by an impostor posing as the Ukrainian prime minister.

The Defence Secretary spent 10 minutes on a Microsoft Teams call with a man who asked about British policy and eventually urged the Defence Secretary to shout slogans.  

Mr Wallace, who revealed the deception in a Tweet this afternoon, said he became suspicious and terminated the call after ‘several misleading questions’.

His admission was followed by a similar one by Ms Patel, who said she was targeted earlier this week. 

The level of sophistication involved in the hoax has convinced Government sources that it was a Russian plot.

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. 

Senior Ministry of Defence sources fear Moscow may attempt to splice together Mr Wallace’s comments in an attempt to embarrass him.     

He has ordered an immediate inquiry to find out how the impostor was able to speak to him. 

The Defence Secretary 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. 

The Defence Secretary spent 10 minutes on a Microsoft Teams call with a man who asked about British policy and eventually urged the Defence Secretary to shout slogans. 

His admission was followed by a similar one by Ms Patel, who said she was targeted earlier this week.

‘As a NATO ally and a very old ally, Britain stands by Poland as Poland carries much of the burden of the consequences of this war,’ Wallace said after a meeting with Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak today

The Sky Sabre system will help Poland defend its airspace from Russian weapons.

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.’

Mr Wallace was in Warsaw today, where he revealed Britain will deploy its latest medium-range missile defence system in Poland.

The Sky Sabre system will help Poland defend its airspace from Russian weapons.

Poland, which borders Ukraine, risks becoming a future target of Russian attacks after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

‘As a NATO ally and a very old ally, Britain stands by Poland as Poland carries much of the burden of the consequences of this war,’ Wallace said after a meeting with Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak.

‘We stand alongside Poland and protecting their air base from any further aggression by Russia’, Wallace added.

Under the new agreement, Britain will help Poland develop the same missile defence system.

Britain has not revealed when the system will be deployed or for how long.

Sky Sabre has ‘the ability to hit a tennis ball at the speed of sound’, Wallace said.

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