The Kremlin has accused former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of lying when he said President Vladimir Putin had threatened him with a missile strike during a phone call leading up to the invasion of Ukraine.
Johnson, speaking to the BBC for a documentary, said the Russian leader had threatened him with a missile attack that would “last just a minute.”
“He threatened me at one point and said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile, it’ll only take a minute,'” or something like that,” Johnson said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov snapped back today, telling reporters Johnson had fabricated the allegations.
“What Mr. Johnson said is not true. More precisely, it’s a lie… There were no missile threats,’ Peskov stated.
Boris claimed that Putin made the accusation during a phone call just before the invasion of Ukraine
Boris Johnson (L) said Vladimir Putin (R) bragged it would take “just a minute” to kill him with a missile after warning him to abandon his plans to attack Ukraine.
Johnson claims that Putin’s astonishing threat was made last February after the former prime minister visited Kiev to assure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Britain would support his country if Russia invaded.
Johnson said he had “a very long, extraordinary conversation” with Putin upon his return. At the time, the Russian president publicly denied that he intended to invade Ukraine, despite amassing tens of thousands of troops at its borders.
The former prime minister said he had told the Russian despot that war would be an “utter catastrophe” and lead to unprecedented Western sanctions.
He downplayed the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO, given opposition from members like France and Germany, but warned that war could boost support for Kiev and result in “more NATO, not less NATO” on Russia’s borders.
Mr Johnson said, ‘He said, ‘Boris, you’re saying Ukraine won’t be joining NATO any time soon… what’s coming soon?'” And I said, ‘Well, it won’t be joining NATO. for the near future. You know that very well.”
“He sort of threatened me at one point and said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile it would only take a minute’.”
“I think from the very relaxed tone he took, the kind of detachment he seemed to have, he was just playing along with my attempts to get him to negotiate.”
The revelation comes in a BBC documentary series called Putin v the West, which airs tonight.
Johnson played a leading role in pushing Western support for Ukraine last year.
Peskov, meanwhile, strongly rejected Johnson’s claims, arguing that it was either a deliberate ploy or a simple mistake made as a result of miscommunication.
“What Mr. Johnson said is not true, more precisely, it is a lie. And furthermore I will say that this is either a deliberate lie – in which case the question is, why did he choose to present it this way? Or was it an unconscious lie and he didn’t really understand what President Putin was talking to him about?’ Peskov reasoned.
“I know what was discussed during this conversation, and I officially reiterate: This is a lie. There were no threats of missile strikes,” he added.
“Speaking of the challenges to Russian security, President Putin noted that if Ukraine joins NATO, the possible placement of US missiles at our borders will mean that any missile will reach Moscow within minutes.”