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Friday, July 19, 2024

Russian Pranksters Release Hoax Video Call With UK’s David Cameron About Ukraine

London’s Foreign Office said earlier this month that Cameron had held a video call with someone purporting to be former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko before realising he was the victim of a hoax.

London:  Russian pranksters who often target people the Russian state is interested in released footage on Wednesday of a video call with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron after tricking him into thinking he was speaking to a former Ukrainian president.

London’s Foreign Office said earlier this month that Cameron had held a video call with someone purporting to be former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko before realising he was the victim of a hoax.

The call, which appears to have lasted around 15 minutes and in which Cameron is shown talking on his mobile phone dressed casually somewhere outside, was carried out by Russian pranksters who use the aliases “Vovan and Lexus.”

The duo is well-known inside Russia having duped a string of Western politicians over the years, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and, in 2022, then British defence minister Ben Wallace.

The Foreign Office said on Wednesday that the call looked like a Russian information operation designed to distract attention from Moscow’s war in Ukraine. It did not answer a question about the video’s authenticity.

Vovan and Lexus have in the past denied Western accusations that they have links to Russia’s intelligence services, though they often ask their victims questions that would be of interest to the Russian state.

In Wednesday’s video, the authenticity of which Reuters could not independently verify, Cameron is seen and heard talking about sensitive Ukraine-related topics.

LOBBYING TRUMP

In particular, he is heard talking about a private dinner he had with U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump in April during which he lobbied Trump to allow Republicans to vote in favour of U.S. military aid for Ukraine.

Cameron is heard saying that the Republican party is split on Ukraine and that he had told Trump that he was wrong if he thought Putin just wanted Crimea and Donbas, two of five Ukrainian regions Moscow now says are part of Russia.

The Washington Post reported in April that Trump had privately spoken about the option of allowing Putin to keep Crimea and Donbas in return for peace, something Trump’s campaign has not confirmed.

Cameron is heard saying such an idea is flawed.

“Trump is convinced there’s a deal to be made and that’s not the case because Putin wants so much more,” says Cameron, adding that he thinks Trump, if he wins the presidency, will support the winning side on the battlefield and that is why this summer’s fighting is so important.

Cameron is also heard saying Ukraine will not be invited to join the NATO military alliance at a summit next month because Washington is opposed to the idea. Cameron also says he does not think a potential French plan to send troops to Ukraine is the right approach because they would become a target for Putin.

In another segment, he is heard recounting a conversation with the foreign minister of Kazakhstan who he said had told him the Central Asian nation feared Russia “wanted a slice” of northern Kazakhstan where many ethnic Russians live.

A spokesperson for Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement:

“…We made public the fact that this call happened weeks ago, to do the right thing and make sure others were warned of the risk at the earliest opportunity. The Foreign Secretary understood this was a private call with a Ukrainian politician.

“This is clearly Russian, and is standard practice for information operations. Disinformation is a tactic straight from the Kremlin playbook to try to distract from their illegal activities in Ukraine and the human rights abuses being committed there.”

Russia denies committing war crimes in Ukraine.

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