Putin threatened me with missile attack — Boris Johnson

In the lead-up to the invasion of Ukraine, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened him with a missile attack over the phone.

In an interview with the BBC for a program that will air later on Monday, Johnson said when the Russian leader questioned him about the likelihood of Ukraine joining NATO, he had replied that it would not happen “for the foreseeable future.”

“He threatened me at one point, and he said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you but, with a missile, it would only take a minute,’ or something like that,” Johnson said, recalling the “very long” and “most extraordinary” call in February 2022 which followed a visit by the then-prime minister to Kyiv.

“But I think from the very relaxed tone that he was taking, the sort of air of detachment that he seemed to have, he was just playing along with my attempts to get him to negotiate.”

Russia denies Johnson’s account.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “There were no threats of missiles.”

“It is either a deliberate lie – so you have to ask Mr. Johnson why he chose to put it that way – or it was an unconscious lie and he did not in fact understand what Putin was talking to him about.”

In his defense, Putin said he had in fact described to Johnson how, in the event that Ukraine joined NATO, US or NATO weapons stationed close to Russia’s borders would allow a missile to reach Moscow in a matter of minutes.

“If that’s how this passage was understood, then it’s a very awkward situation,” Peskov said, as he suggested that there may have been a misunderstanding.