Boris Johnson, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to kill him with a missile strike just days before the Kremlin invaded Ukraine.
The first episode of a three-part BBC documentary called Putin vs the West was released Monday, in which Johnson recounted a shocking phone call he had with the Russian leader when he was still British prime minister.
According to the British politician, the conversation occurred in February, 2022 after his visit to Kiev. Vladimir Putin had promised that the call would only take "a minute.” However, it ended up taking much longer than expected.
Johnson explained that it ended up being a very long and tense conversation that became even more awkward after they discussed Ukraine's then possible membership in NATO. The prime minister tried to warn Putin that invading Ukraine would be a total catastrophe and would trigger major sanctions by the West, to which he allegedly responded with a strong threat.
"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’," Johnson recalled in the documentary.
The former prime minister claimed that the tone Putin used was so relaxed that he even seemed completely indifferent, so he said that perhaps he was "just playing along" as an attempt to get him to negotiate.
"Boris, I don't want to hurt you but with a missile it would only take a minute" - @BorisJohnson told @BBCNews about his talks with Putin before the full-scale invasion began.
He added that Putin seemed relaxed and detached. pic.twitter.com/zLQ1pPG5uJ
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) January 30, 2023
Kremlin denies statements
After this information went public, Dmitri Peskov, spokesman for the Russian presidency, assured that Johnson’s recollections were not true. "I officially repeat: this is a lie, there were no threats with missiles," Peskov said, stressing that this story has unleashed a feeling of discomfort among the president’s interlocutors.
Likewise, the Kremlin representative mentioned that "If it was an intentional lie, then it begs the question why he chose to express himself in that way, and if it was unintentional, then it was because he didn’t understand what President Putin said to him."
However, since Russia invaded Ukraine, Putin has made it clear that he would take immediate action to any country that interferes, going so far as to hint that he would use nuclear weapons.