LONDON (Reuters) – British defence minister Ben Wallace ordered an inquiry on Thursday after an impostor claiming to be the Ukrainian prime minister was able to contact him, an incident he blamed on Russia.
The video call was set up after an email was sent to a government department, purportedly from an aide at the Ukrainian embassy, which was then passed on to the Ministry of Defence.
“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,” Wallace said on Twitter.
“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.”
A defence source said Wallace had ordered an immediate inquiry into how the call, which lasted about 10 minutes, was allowed to happen.
Home Secretary (interior minister) Priti Patel said she had also been targeted.
“This also happened to me earlier this week,” she wrote on Twitter. “Pathetic attempt at such difficult times to divide us. We stand with Ukraine.”
It is not the first time British ministers have been the victims of a hoax call.
In May 2018 Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was foreign minister at the time, talked about international relations and rude poetry with a hoax caller who pretended to be the Armenian prime minister.
(Reporting by William James, Elizabeth Piper, and Michael Holden; editing by Jonathan Oatis)