independent.co.uk: lBoris Johnson has been duped into discussing the UK’s relationship with Russia with hoax callers pretending to be the Armenian prime minister.
An audio clip posted online by Russian pranksters, Lexus and Vovan, appears to show the foreign secretary talking about the UK’s dealings with Vladimir Putin and the poisoning of the Skripals with the pair, who were pretending to be Nikol Pashinyan, the recently elected political leader.
The Foreign Office said Mr Johnson had ended the call when he realised it was a hoax and issued a stern statement condemning the “childish actions” of the duo.
Downing Street said an investigation was already underway into how the pranksters got through to the foreign secretary. In the recording, Mr Johnson starts by congratulating the new prime minister on his election and promises support and advice to Armenia on balancing the demands of Russia and the West. The pair then discuss Vladimir Putin and the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal earlier this year, with the man posing as Mr Pashinyan joking that he hoped the Russian president would not “poison me with novichok”.
His comments drew a chuckle from Mr Johnson, who admitted the UK “obviously had hoped to have better relations ... than we currently do” with Russia. Mr Johnson said the UK was “almost 100 per cent sure” that the Kremlin was behind the attempted murder of the former spy and his daughter in Salisbury, and told the prankster that he would be happy to share information with them.
He said: “I think it is very important for the Russians to know that the UK is absolutely determined to stand firm against them and we will continue to tighten the squeeze on some of the oligarchs that surround Putin.”
Sanctions against oligarchs have been extremely useful, Mr Johnson said, adding:
“You throw a stone in Kensington and you hit an oligarch. But some of them are close to Putin and some of them aren’t.” The hoax caller also told Mr Johnson, “I like your poetry”, after the foreign secretary won a prize for a rude limerick about Turkey’s President Erdogan.
The foreign secretary seemed to become uncomfortable when the prankster claimed the Kremlin was directly “influencing” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Mr Johnson said:
”I’m sure our intelligence will be listening on this line and they will draw the relevant conclusions I’m sure. “Thank you very much for that interesting titbit of information.”