Kissinger falls victim to Russian pranksters posing as Zelensky
Veteran US statesman Henry Kissinger said he wouldn’t criticize Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky for blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines, according to a video published by a pair of Russian pranksters. The centenarian thought he was talking to the Ukrainian leader himself.
The duo, who go by stage names Vovan and Lexus, posed as the Ukrainian leader during a video conference with Kissinger, they claimed on Monday. A full hour-long episode of their show, which was based on the prank, was released on social media the next day.
According to one of the shown clips, at one point they asked Kissinger whether he believed Moscow blew up its own undersea energy links with Germany last September. At first the centennial former US official seemed hesitant to respond, but the fake Zelensky insisted.
“I, frankly, have thought it was you,” Kissinger finally said, according to the dubbed over translation of the exchange.
‘Zelensky’ in response assured the American that Ukraine was not behind the sabotage, to which Kissinger said he “didn’t blame” Kiev and made it clear that his remark was not meant as a criticism.
The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines made direct supplies of Russian natural gas to Western Europe impossible. European states investigating it failed to identify the culprit, but reports in Western media, which were based on intelligence leaks, claimed that either a “pro-Ukrainian group” or a faction of the Ukrainian military not answering to Zelensky was likely to blame.
Veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has reported that the operation was ordered by US President Joe Biden and conducted jointly by the US and Norway, which both nations deny. Moscow indicated that it trusts Hersh’s sources in this case.
Vovan and Lexus, whose real names are Vladimir Kuznetsov and Aleksey Stolyarov, play pranks on public figures by pretending to be other influential figures and goading interlocutors into making statements that, presumably, they wouldn’t want the public to hear.
Kissinger famously became the target of Zelensky’s criticisms last year, too, after he shared his views about Ukraine’s conflict with Russia. He suggested that the status of Crimea and other former Ukrainian territories, which Kiev claims under its sovereignty, should be subject to negotiation.
Both Kissinger and Zelensky are Jewish. The American noted at the time that the Ukrainian leader was remarkable for being elected head of state in a country “that normally would not elect somebody of his background” but who, he said, lacked “clarity and conviction” when it came to post-conflict settlement.