Ex-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened him with a missile strike during a telephone conversation in February 2022, in the run-up to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The statement was made in the BBC documentary “Putin vs the West,” which chronicles Putin's interactions with world leaders before the war. The film will be released on Monday, January 30, on BBC 2.
“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.”
According to Johnson, this was Putin's comment after Johnson said that a war in Ukraine would be an utter catastrophe. The former prime minister added that, judging by Putin's very relaxed tone and detachment, the Russian president was “playing along” with his attempts to get Putin to negotiate. Johnson also tried once again to remind Putin that Ukraine would not join NATO for the foreseeable future. In addition, he said in the conversation that any Russian invasion would mean “more NATO, not less NATO” at its borders.
BBC correspondents note that, given the Skripals poisoning in Salisbury, Johnson may have taken Putin's threats seriously.
Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov later commented on the report:
“What Mr. Johnson said is not true, or rather it is a lie. And, furthermore, I will say, it is either a conscious lie, then I guess the question is for what purpose he chose to put it that way, or it was unconscious, and he in fact did not understand what President Putin was telling him. If so, it becomes a little uncomfortable to think of our President's interlocutors.
I know what was discussed during this conversation and I repeat once again for the record: this is a lie. There were no threats of missile strikes. Speaking about challenges to Russian security, President Putin noted that if Ukraine joined NATO, the potential deployment of NATO or American missiles near our borders would mean that any missile would reach Moscow in minutes.”
In the autumn of 2022, Boris Johnson declined to run for Conservative Party leader and prime minister after Prime Minister Liz Truss announced her resignation on October 20. She remained in office for just 45 days, setting an anti-record for the longest premiership in the country's history. On October 25, Britain's King Charles III appointed former finance minister, Rishi Sunak, 42, as prime minister. The first foreign leader to whom Sunak made an official call as prime minister was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski. During their conversation, they discussed, among other things, support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, Zelenskyy said.