Boris Johnson discusses Putin with hoaxer

Britain’s foreign office has confirmed Boris Johnson was targeted by a Russian prank caller.British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson took a phone call from a Russian prankster posing as Armenia’s new premier, responding to his request for advice on meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the latest embarrassment for the gaffe-prone British politician, Johnson congratulated the hoax caller, whom he believed to be Nikol Pashinyan, on winning an election earlier this month.

He was told that Pashinyan planned to meet Putin in Sochi next week and would like advice ahead of the talks.

“I hope he will not poison me with Novichok,” the fake Pashinyan said, referring to the nerve agent implicated in the poisoning of a Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.

Johnson laughed before replying: “Well, it’s very important, I think, prime minister, that we don’t have a new Cold War.”

The attack on the Skripals was “a terrible mistake,” Johnson said, according to an audio recording of the call circulated by Russian pranksters Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov, known online as Vovan and Lexus.

“Their behaviour is generally very, very disruptive and it’s bad for Russia and, if I have a message to Putin, it is: We don’t want a Cold War but we do want to see an improvement in the way Russia behaves,” Johnson said.

He laughed again when the caller praised his irreverent, offensive poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but he still appeared to take most of the 18-minute conversation seriously.

After 14 minutes, Johnson appeared to want to end the call, saying: “Thank you very much, prime minister.”

Britain’s foreign office later confirmed Johnson had been hoaxed and said the perpetrator was “childish”.

Johnson is no stranger to controversy. In the run-up to Britain’s 2016 referendum on EU membership, he compared the goals of the European Union to those of Adolf Hitler and Napoleon.

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