We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

A spokesperson for Varadkar said the call transpired to be a "sophisticated deep-fake". Alamy

Leo Varadkar falls victim to a prank by two Russian comedians

Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson have also been pranked by the pair of comedians.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has been the latest politician to fall victim to a prank by a Russian duo who pose as diplomats in order to coax world leaders into gaffes.

Varadkar joins leaders such as Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson who’ve also been pranked by the pair of comedians.

In a 13-minute clip, posted to alternative media website ‘Rumble’ – a platform that has light restrictions to what a person can say or do – the Taoiseach answers questions on a number of issues including migration, a United Ireland, the possibility of Ireland joining NATO and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While Varadkar does not say anything out-of-the-norm about these topics, for the duration of the virtual call he believes he’s speaking to an African diplomat.

Responding to the hoax, a spokesperson for the Taoiseach said: “Earlier this year the Taoiseach took part in a virtual meeting on the understanding that it was with a representative of the African Union Commission.

“The Taoiseach ended the call early due to suspicions about its nature and the manner in which it was conducted. It transpired to be a sophisticated deep-fake.

“The material that has now been released has evidently been doctored and overdubbed in heavily-accented English, and does not represent what actually took place on the call.

“Following the call the Government notified the Irish embassy in Addis Ababa, the African Union Commission and the National Cyber Security Centre. Inquiries are continuing.

“We are aware that the Taoiseach is not the only European leader targeted by a sophisticated deep-fake in this manner.”

Asked about the potential impact the current refugee crisis could have with the possibility of further escalation in Ukraine by Russia, Varadkar said Ireland is currently facing “a very big refugee crisis”.

Varadkar said: “[This is] The biggest we’ve ever experienced in our history. There is 100,000 Ukrainians now live in Ireland. I’ve accommodated someone from Ukraine in my house for nine months and that’s because Russia invaded Ukraine.”

He added that Russia is currently occupying three European countries and that such aggression by Russia has not been seen in Europe “since Hitler”.

Later, on neutrality, he said: “We know our neutrality doesn’t protect us as well as it did in the past.”

However, he shot down any possibility of Ireland changing its position on joining NATO or the possibility that the state would apply for membership.

He said the situation would “become a different question” if Russia chose to attack other European states, but added: “I really hope it won’t go that far.”

The two go onto discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where the comedian presses the Taoiseach on pro-Russian talking points, suggesting some of the propaganda from Russia is correct.

Although declining these claims, Varadkar does outline Ireland’s position in the conflict and asserts the state’s military neutrality.

Varadkar, when asked, went onto explain that it is a constitutional goal of the Irish state that it be reunified with Northern Ireland, however – after a move that could be viewed as what blew their cover – he moved to end the call shortly after.

The prankster suggested that the fake African Diplomat sees the reunification of the island of Ireland akin to Russia attempting to “reunify” with Ukraine. 

He added that the fake diplomat would be in favour of supporting a military action to reunify, which the Taoiseach is not heard responding to. Varadkar then moves to end the call between them.

As the pair exchange their goodbyes, the comedian told Varadkar to “say hello to your leprechauns”, a joke which Varadkar takes lightly before swiftly ending the call.