Warsaw — Shortly after a missile strike in Poland near the Ukrainian border killed two people, Polish President Andrzej Duda was duped into taking a phone call by a Russian comedian posing as French President Emmanuel Macron.
Duda discussed potentially invoking NATO’S Article 4 and shared details of conversations with US President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the call, which was published on the Russian video platform Rutube.
The Polish president’s office on Tuesday acknowledged falling for the ruse and said the call came amid a flurry of conversations with world leaders immediately after the missile strike. The president ended the call after realizing it might be a fraud.
Russian comedians Vovan ( Vladimir Kuznetsov) and Lexus ( Alexei Stolyarov), who have a long history of duping foreign leaders with fake calls, were behind the impersonation.
In the seven-and-a-half-minute conversation, Duda tells the person posing as Macron about the missile strike in the border area with Ukraine and expresses concerns about an escalating conflict between Russia and NATO.
“There is no doubt that was [a] missile. Launched, we don’t know by whom, launched somewhere in the east,” Duda explains in choppy English, adding that the missile was built by Russia and large blast crater.
Then it gets explosive: Duda goes on to report to the Russians impersonator that he has already spoken with Stoltenberg about initiating proceedings under Article 4 of the NATO Treaty. Article 4 provides for consultations of NATO states if one of them sees the integrity of its territory, political independence or its own security threatened.
Duda also tells the caller about his phone call with US President Joe Biden.
“Does he blame Russia?” the caller wants to know.
“No,” Duda replies. But the Polish president also confirms that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, on the other hand, is convinced that the missile was fired by Russia.
“I think that we don’t need escalation, escalation between Russia and NATO,” says the supposed Macron with a phony French accent.
“Emmanuel, do you think that I want to have war with Russia?” Duda replies.
“I don’t want to have war with Russia and believe me, I’m extra careful,” Duda adds. “I’m extra careful.”
Duda goes on to assure the prank caller that he is not considering invoking NATO’s Article 5 mutual defence protections in response to the incident.
The Polish presidential office said it was investigating how the caller managed to get through to Duda.
The duo Vovan and Lexus have been known in Russia for years for tricking politicians and other international celebrities with fake calls. They successfully called Duda once before and also once tricked Macron into taking a call while posing as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Earlier this summer, the comedians tricked several mayors in EU capitals into thinking they were talking to Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko. Among the victims of those prank calls was Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey.
Some time ago, according to ARD, they admitted in a Kontraste interview to working for an internet platform owned by the Russian state corporation Gazprom.
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