Russia President Vladimir Putin threatened to personally target Boris Johnson with a missile attack in the lead up to Russian forces marching into Ukraine, the former UK prime minister has claimed.
Johnson said the comment was made after he warned the war would be an “utter catastrophe” during a “very long” call with Putin in February 2022, according to a new BBC documentary set for broadcast Monday.
Johnson claims in the interview he and other Western leaders had been hurrying to Kyiv to show support for Ukraine and try to deter a Russian attack.
“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’, or something like that,” Johnson quoted Putin as saying.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 29, 2022
He went on to say “But I think from the very relaxed tone that he [Putin] 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.”
Prior to the invasion, Johnson says he was at pains to tell Putin there was no imminent prospect of Ukraine joining NATO, while warning him any invasion would mean “more NATO, not less NATO” on Russia’s borders.
“He said, ‘Boris, you say that Ukraine is not going to join NATO any time soon.
“‘What is any time soon?’ And I said, ‘well it’s not going to join NATO for the foreseeable future. You know that perfectly well’.”
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 20, 2023
The BBC documentary charts the growing divide between the Russian leader and the West in the years before the invasion of Ukraine, AFP reports.
No reference to the alleged exchange between Johnson and Putin appeared in accounts of the call given by either Downing Street or the Kremlin, the BBC makes clear.