March 24, 2022
Last week, UK Defence Chief Ben Wallace told The Telegraph that he had been targeted by a “Russian imposter” posing as the Ukrainian prime minister in a video call designed to extract sensitive information and “embarrass” him. Sure enough, the infamous Russian pranksters Vovan and Lexus soon began releasing clips of their conversation with Wallace.
Vovan and Lexus have released a full, 16-minute long video of their conversation with Secretary of Defence Wallace, with the clip, in which they pretended to be Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal, containing new information not seen in previously released teasers.
UK Ready to Discuss ‘Security Alliance’
Asked by his interlocutor to comment on the prospects of a military alliance being formed between Britain and Ukraine, Wallace said that the UK was “very keen to support you in any negotiations.”
“I know, my understanding is that President Zelensky is quite keen to see the United Kingdom alongside Ukraine in these negotiations because of the experience that we (well we didn’t have), but the bad experience of the Minsk Agreement, where just France and Germany were there and I think there is a desire for the UK and the US. And I think all of those subjects, including a security alliance I think is something to discuss with you on those negotiations,” the official said.
“We would like to be close to you in these negotiations for really two reasons – so we could provide our intelligence to you as much as possible to let you know what the Russians are thinking, and to just allow you all to be able to explore with us what you think is feasible,” Wallace added.
Signed in February of 2015, the Minsk negotiations process saw the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France gather in the Belarusian capital to hammer out a peace agreement – including a ceasefire deal and a peace plan aimed at putting an end to the conflict in the Donbass by reintegrating the region back into Ukraine in exchange for constitutionally-guaranteed autonomy. In the seven years since the agreement was signed, successive Ukrainian governments have failed to make the necessary reforms, notwithstanding pressure from both Russia and Europe (but, crucially – not the Washington establishment) to do so.
Ukraine Will Go It Alone
Asked to comment on Moscow’s negotiating position in the Ukraine crisis, including the requirement of “iron-clad” guarantees that Ukraine not join NATO, Wallace said that “the freedom to choose is a very important freedom for Ukraine. Russia’s other demands of Crimea and Donbass, to abandon all those, which I don’t think Ukraine will, but if Russia was to be successful, the question is you know Russia is still a war criminal with sanctions around its neck and deserves to keep them there,” he said.
“When it comes to discussions about security guarantees, I think we need to support you in what is the other parts of the agreement as well, you know, what are other parts of the agreement that Russia will demand and whether you think they are appropriate or whether they are acceptable. Because I don’t think Russia should be able to demand anything other than going home,” Wallace added.
The minister said the British government was “sad” about Kiev’s current predicament, because “Britain was one of those countries that wanted you to join NATO. There are thirty nations in NATO and that is part of the problem. It’s not easy to get every single one to say yes. And we have always wanted you to join NATO, which is why our training teams were there to help you over the last five years trying to get to the right stage, and you were there. That is a deep sense of regret.”