Downing Street has publicly accused Vladimir Putin’s Russia of being behind the hoaxes targeting British ministers.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel said they were the target of impersonator calls last week, while No 10 revealed a failed attempt had also been made to contact Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Russian state was responsible for the fraudulent phone calls made to British ministers last week.
“This is standard practice for Russian information operations and disinformation is a tactic pulled straight from the Kremlin’s playbook in an attempt to distract from their illegal activities in Ukraine and human rights abuses. the man committed there.”
Mr Wallace had previously said he believed Russia was behind the incident, but this is the first time the government has directly blamed the Kremlin.
Downing Street has said the hoax video calls to British ministers were an attempt by Vladimir Putin’s regime to distract from military issues in Ukraine.
“We are witnessing a series of stories of distraction and outright lies from the Kremlin, reflecting Putin’s desperation as he seeks to hide the scale of the conflict and Russia’s failures on the battlefield,” said the Prime Minister’s official spokesman.
High-level government sources fear the Russians are trying to tamper with footage obtained from the calls in a bid to embarrass the UK.
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.
It also launched a cross-Whitehall review to strengthen security procedures.