Meloni talks of "fatigue" over war in Ukraine.
Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni was recorded saying there was "a lot of fatigue" from "all the sides" over the war in Ukraine, during a prank call with a pair of Russian comedians.
Audio of the phone call between Meloni and pranksters Vovan and Lexus, the latter of whom pretended to be the president of the African Union Commission, was leaked on Wednesday.
In a statement Meloni's office said it regretted that the premier had been "deceived by an imposter" during the 13-minute phone call which took place on 18 September ahead of meetings with African leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Asked about Russia's war in Ukraine, Meloni said the time is approaching "when everyone will understand that we need a way out", claiming that the problem lies in “finding a way out that is acceptable for both sides without destroying international law”.
Speaking in English, Meloni said she had "some ideas on how to manage the situation" but was waiting for the "right moment" to present them, adding: "The Ukrainians are doing what they have to do and we are trying to help them.”
The Russian comedy duo Vovan and Lexus made a prank call to Italian PM Giorgia Meloni pretending to be the head of the African Union.
In the call (confirmed as authentic by the Italian government) Meloni said that all her European colleagues are already… pic.twitter.com/ybad9AkoZv
— Crazy Ass Moments in Italian Politics (@CrazyItalianPol) November 1, 2023
The premier also voiced frustration over the migration crisis, claiming that Italy has been abandoned by international partners to deal alone with a surge of migrants into Europe via Italy, slamming it as “a very stupid way of thinking”.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Palazzo Chigi underlined that Meloni, "despite the provocations, confirmed full support for Ukraine and Italian policies to combat illegal immigration".
The case however raises serious questions about how a prank phone caller was given direct access to Meloni by the office of the diplomatic advisor to the Italian prime minister, headed by Ambassador Francesco Talò.
Lorenzo Guerini, president of Italy's parliamentary committee that oversees the country's intelligence services (COPASIR), said it is "a priority to act so that similar circumstances are not repeated in the future, aware that they can be considered, among the various hypotheses, also as activities with malicious purposes and which therefore require the utmost attention".
Meloni is the latest high-profile target of the Russian pranksters who in the past have caught out former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then UK prime minister Boris Johnson, as well as Prince Harry and Elton John, with similar hoax calls.
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