Ministers have been warned to prepare for more videos to emerge after a ‘prank’ call with Defense Secretary Ben Wallace surfaced following Britain accusing Vladimir Putin’s Russia of hoax attempts.
Downing Street has accused the Kremlin of being behind efforts to secure sensitive or embarrassing information in calls before the images were released on Monday evening.
During the video call, Mr Wallace was seen talking to the impostor dressed as Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
Mr Wallace is shown speaking from Poland as the caller says Ukraine wants to advance a ‘nuclear programme’ to protect itself from Moscow – a baseless claim made by Russian state media in the past.
When issuing the appeal, Mr Wallace suggested the invasion of Ukraine “must be going so badly for the Kremlin” if he resorted to “fake video”.
A Ministry of Defense source said the video was “garbage”, adding: “It’s a doctored clip.
“What you don’t hear is that the Defense Secretary is also saying that the UK has nothing to do with Ukraine’s alleged nuclear ambitions because the UK is committed to the treaty on the non -proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Mr Wallace did not appear to say anything particularly embarrassing or sensitive in the video, but he touted a “full interview” in “a matter of days”.
Several hoaxes, condemned by the Secretary of Defense as “dirty tricks”, have emerged recently, targeting government ministers.
Home Secretary Priti Patel also admitted speaking to imposters, while a failed attempt targeted Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.
An ‘official teaser’ of the call with the defense minister appeared on a YouTube page, claiming it was a ‘video prank’ with ‘Vovan and Lexus’, a duet previously attributed to a hoax targeting the Duke of Sussex.
Critics have accused the couple, real names Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, of having ties to Russian security services, which they deny.
Sky News understands officials were pressuring YouTube to remove Mr Wallace’s video from the platform.
Mr Wallace publicly admitted he had been targeted shortly after his Thursday call in a bid to forestall any attempts by Moscow to release footage of it.
He also launched a cross-Whitehall investigation to figure out how he ended up on the video call.
Downing Street has urged people not to share video clips of the calls.