A few Remainers and Labour MPs are sneering at Boris for the Kremlin-sponsored prank call, though Guido doubts even they believe their criticisms of the Foreign Secretary on this. The more reality-based are asking the pertinent questions about why the Russian government appears to be engaging in an international trolling exercise and how on earth FCO officials let the call take place. Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov, who have links to the Russian security services, didn’t manage to get Boris to deviate from his public lines to take during their 18 minute phone call. A senior diplomatic source said:
“This seems to be the latest desperate attempt by the Kremlin to save face after it was internationally shamed in the wake of the Skripal attack. Boris rumbled them pretty quickly and ended the call. It is tragic to see a major international power reduced to failed pranks you would usually only see on Trigger Happy TV.”
A few gleeful Twitter lefties seem to be forgetting the Kremlin’s response to Salisbury has been to troll the West. This looks like it was timed to deflect from the much more important Yulia Skripal and MH17 stories today, from which the Russian government would want to distract.
The call was arranged by Alan Duncan, who must be feeling like a lemon. The FCO mandarin who put the Foreign Secretary on the phone to two Kremlin pranksters must be having a fun day, too. Fortunately for Boris he remained, according to the Mirror, “scrupulously diplomatic”, and as the Guardian reports, “struck a similar tone to his public pronouncements”, before ending the call. He certainly did a lot better than Erdogan and the other world leaders they have prank called like Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko, and Elton John. All that Kremlin training and these two pranksters couldn’t even get Boris to say anything interesting…
UPDATE: Bloomberg reports:
Details of the call were published in the pro-Kremlin tabloid newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda and those responsible expressed disappointment that Johnson had not made a fool of himself. Johnson turned out to be “a smart diplomat, an intellectual,” Alexei Stolyarov, told the newspaper. It’s “probably the first time the person we talked to who was not a fool,” he said.
Couple of Labour MPs looking silly now.