Britain's Ministry of Defense (MoD) published an open letter to Youtube asking it to take down the clips of a prank call to defense minister Ben Wallace by Russian pranksters, claiming it to be a part of the state propaganda.
A number of clips that seem to be orchestrated by self-styled pranksters “Vovan and Lexus” appeared on Youtube. In one of them, Wallace holds a 10-minute long conversation with a person he believes to be the Ukrainian prime minister, discussing a variety of issues relating to NATO. He also supposedly suggests that the UK is “running out of our own” NLAW anti-tank weapons.
The MoD slammed the contents of the video, calling them doctored and saying that the UK has provided over 4,000 NLAWs to Ukraine and has enough forces to defend their borders, as well as maintain their commitments to NATO.
“This video, like most Russian propaganda, is fed out to obscure and manipulate the truth.
People should be very sceptical about reporting on, and accepting as real, any part of these Russian state doctored clips,” MoD claimed on Twitter.
Later today, the MoD claimed that those “doctored clips” present a national security threat to the UK in an open letter to Youtube. They also suggested that the Russian state is responsible for them. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman confirmed that the move is in line with the government’s ongoing propaganda campaign, saying that “it is standard practice for Russian information operations to try and use these tactics.” They believe this to be a distraction from Russia’s illegal attack on Ukraine – but the UK will maintain its focus there.
Lexus and Vovan, whose real names are Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, have been previously linked to Russian security services. Their targets have included the Duke of Sussex, famous celebrities, critics of the Kremlin, and various country leaders, such as the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.
'YouTube is in danger of aiding and abetting the Russian state propaganda machine, putting people at risk,” a defense source told MailOnline.
Wallace admitted to being on the phone call, saying that he immediately ended it after becoming suspicious about the "misleading" questions of the impostor, and launched an inquiry into the incident.