Meloni told a prank caller posing as an African leader there was “a lot of tiredness” over the war in Ukraine and that she had some ideas as to how to “find a way out”, Italian media reported.
The recording of the 13-minute call, made on September 18th, was released online on Wednesday by Russian pranksters known as Vovan and Lexus, who have duped other Western politicians and celebrities.
A recording of the call was published on the Canadian video-sharing platform Rumble before being picked up by the Russian state-owned news agency Ria Novosti.
“There is a lot of tiredness on all sides,” Meloni is heard saying regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine. “The moment is approaching when everyone will understand that we need a way out.
“Ukraine’s counteroffensive is not going as expected … It has not changed the fate of the conflict, and everyone understands that [the conflict] could last many years if we don’t find a solution. The Ukrainians are doing what they have to do and we are trying to help them.”
The problem, Meloni said, was “finding a way out that is acceptable for both sides without destroying international law”.
She added: “I have some ideas on how to manage this situation, but I’m waiting for the right moment to put them on the table.”
Meloni’s office confirmed that she had been “misled” into the phone call “by an impostor who pretended to be the president of the African Union Commission”.
"The episode occurred in the context of Premier Meloni's intense efforts in those hours to strengthen relations with African leaders with whom she had important meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly between 19 and 21 September," her office stated.
Vovan and Lexus, who are strongly pro-Russia, have been accused of having links to Russian intelligence services, although there is no evidence to support these claims.
They have previously targeted other European leaders including former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.