'Dirty tricks': Imposter posing as Ukraine PM manages to call UK defence secretary

17 March 2022, 17:21 | Updated: 18 March 2022, 06:32

Ben Wallace said he was the victim of an attempt at "dirty tricks"
Ben Wallace said he was the victim of an attempt at "dirty tricks". Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

An imposter posing as Ukraine's prime minister managed to speak to the British Defence Secretary, in what he described as "dirty tricks", as well as the Home Secretary.

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Ben Wallace said he was asked "several misleading questions" and ended the call after becoming suspicious they were not Denys Shmyhal.

It raises security questions given someone managed to get as far as speaking with Mr Wallace when they weren't who they claimed to be.

"Today an attempt was made by an imposter claiming to be Ukrainian PM to speak with me," Mr Wallace said.

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"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 ordered an investigation into the security breach after Priti Patel said the same thing happened to her earlier this week.

She said: "This also happened to me earlier this week.

"Pathetic attempt at such difficult times to divide us. We stand with Ukraine."

Mr Wallace and Ms Patel did not reveal what was discussed or claim who was behind it, though they appeared to be pointing the finger at Russia.

Mr Wallace's remarks about human rights abuses comes after rescue efforts got under way to reach survivors of the Mariupol theatre bombing, which held up to 1,200 people sheltering in the southern city.

A total of 53 people were killed in another city that has come under attack, Chernihiv, as Russia looks to lay siege to Ukraine’s urban areas.

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However, the British Ministry of Defence believes the Russian invasion has largely stalled. Ukraine has put up a stiff resistance agains the invasion even as their cities are bombarded.

This week, the possibility of a peace plan emerged involving Ukraine renouncing any bid to join Nato, but nothing concrete has been put in place.