Boris Johnson says Putin threatens to hit UK with missiles


LONDON — Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Russian President Vladimir Putin personally threatened to hit him with missiles on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The allegation comes from excerpts from a BBC documentary on Putin and the West, due to air later on Monday, in which Johnson admitted the Russian leader may have been joking.

Johnson said Putin made the remarks during a “very long” and “extraordinary” phone call in early February last year, when Russian troops were massing on the Ukrainian border. Johnson, who was prime minister at the time, recently visited Kyiv to show Western support for Ukraine.

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“He threatened me at one point and said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with the missiles, it’s only a minute,’ or something like that. You know … jolly,” Johnson said.

Russia has one of the world’s largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons, including long-range missiles, but Johnson said he did not see Putin’s remarks as a serious threat.

“Judging from the relaxed tone of his tone, the detachment he seemed to have, he was just cooperating with my attempts to get him to negotiate,” Johnson said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that Putin had threatened Johnson with a missile strike and said the former prime minister was either deliberately not telling the truth or had misunderstood the Russian president.

“It was a lie, there was no missile threat,” he told reporters at a news conference. “Talking about the challenges facing the security of the Russian Federation, President Putin noted that if Ukraine joined NATO, the possibility of NATO or the United States deploying missiles near our borders would mean that any missiles would reach Moscow within minutes. If this It would be embarrassing to read that passage that way,” he said.

Johnson said that during the conversation, he had warned Putin that tougher sanctions would be imposed in the event of an invasion, which would bolster Western support for Ukraine and lead to “more NATO, not less, on Russia’s borders.” NATO”.

“He said, ‘Boris, you said Ukraine wasn’t going to join NATO anytime soon. … When is soon? I said, ‘Well, it won’t join NATO for the foreseeable future. You know that very well, ‘” Johnson recalled the exchange. Three weeks after they called, on February 2nd. On the 24th, Russia invaded Ukraine.

Johnson has tried to position himself as one of Ukraine’s most outspoken supporters. Just a week earlier, he had made a surprise visit to Kyiv – although he holds no official role in the British government after being ousted in September over a series of scandals – and had a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky pledged that the UK would “hold on to Ukraine for as long as it needs to.

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British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace made the comments in separate segments of the documentary “Putin and the West,” which aired Monday night, and also addressed exchanges with Russian officials during a visit to Moscow last February.

References to conversations with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and generals. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the army’s general staff, said: “I remember saying to Minister Shoigu ‘they will fight’ and he said, ‘My mother is Ukrainian, they will not fight! ‘” He also said he had no intention of intrusion. “

“That would be ‘vran’e’ in Russian. “Vran’e” I think is a form of bullying or strength: I’m going to lie to you. You know I’m lying. I know you know I’m lying, and I still To lie to you. He knows I know and I know he knows. But I think it’s saying: I’m powerful.

“It’s a pretty chilling but straight up lie that they’re not going to do it, and I think that confirms to me that they’re going to do it. I remember when we went out, General. will be humiliated. We used to be the fourth army in the world, and now we are the second army in the world. Now it’s America and that moment there was an underlying reason [they were doing this]”

Natalia Abbakumova in Riga, Latvia contributed to this report.

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