U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry discussed climate change, expanding American coal exports to Ukraine, and natural gas during a recent phone conversation with a Russian prankster who Perry thought was Ukraine's prime minister.
Perry actually was talking with pranksters Vladimir Krasnov and Aleksei Stolyarov, who have posed as political leaders in phone calls with other well-known people, Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said on July 25.
British pop star Elton John was targeted by the pair, who call themselves Lexus and Vovan, in a 2015 call he thought was from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The 22-minute call with Perry on July 19 was recorded and posted online.
During the call, Perry discussed sanctions against Russia and helping Ukraine develop oil and gas, among other topics, with a person he thought was Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman.
Perry said the Trump administration opposes Nord Stream 2, a Russian project to bring natural gas to Europe across the Baltic Sea. He also said that U.S. technology could help Ukraine develop gas.
"Giving Ukraine more options with some of our technology is, I think, in everyone's best interest, with the exception of the Russians. But that's OK," he said.
Based on reporting by Reuters and The Washington Post