Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Vladimir Putin threatened him with a missile strike in an “extraordinary” phone call prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the BBC is reporting.
Johnson recalled the phone call for a BBC documentary, saying that Putin told him it “would only take a minute” to launch a missile.
According to Johnson, Putin made the threat after Johnson warned that a war with Ukraine would be an “utter catastrophe.”
“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. Jolly.
“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.”
According to the documentary released Monday, Johnson says the call took place in February 2022. Johnson said he tried to dissuade him from invading Ukraine, warning that an invasion would bring “massive” Western sanctions.
Asked about Johnson’s comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that his account was untrue, “or, more precisely, it was a lie.”
Peskov said Johnson may have lied or may have failed to understand what Putin was telling him, NPR reported.
“There were no threats with missiles,” Peskov said on a conference call with reporters. “While talking about security challenges to Russia, President Putin said that if Ukraine joins NATO, the potential deployment of U.S. or other NATO missiles near our borders would mean that any such missile could reach Moscow in minutes.”
Johnson stepped down in September in the wake of a series of scandals.
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