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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 in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine.
Johnson, speaking to the BBC for a documentary, said the Russian leader had threatened him with a missile strike that would ‘only take a minute’.
‘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,’ Johnson said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov today bit back, telling reporters that Johnson had fabricated the allegations.
‘What Mr. Johnson said is not true. More precisely it’s a lie… There were no missile threats,’ Peskov declared.
Johnson, speaking to the BBC for a documentary, said the Russian leader (pictured) had threatened him with a missile strike during a phone call prior to the invasion of Ukraine
Russian test launch of a Sarmat nuclear capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is pictured)
Johnson claims Putin’s astonishing threat was made in February last year after the former prime minister visited Kyiv to assure Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky that Britain would back his country if Russia were to invade.
Johnson said that he had ‘a very long, most extraordinary call’ with Putin upon his return to Britain, at a time when the Russian president was publicly denying that he planned to invade Ukraine, despite having massed tens of thousands of troops on its borders in Russia and Belarus.
The former prime minister said he told the Russian despot that war would be an ‘utter catastrophe’ and trigger unprecedented Western sanctions.
He downplayed the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO, given the opposition from members such as France and Germany, but warned that war could galvanise support behind Kyiv and would result in ‘more NATO, not less NATO’ on Russia’s borders.
Johnson said: ‘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”.
‘He sort of threatened me at one point and said, ”Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile it would take only a minute”.
‘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.’
The revelation comes in a BBC documentary series called Putin v the West, which is due to be broadcast tonight.
Johnson played a leading role in drumming up Western support for Ukraine last year.
Peskov meanwhile strongly rejected Johnson’s claims, arguing that it was either a conscious ploy, or a simple mistake committed due to miscommunication.
‘What Mr. Johnson said is not true, more precisely, it is a lie. And moreover, I will say that this is either a conscious lie – in which case the question is, why did he choose to present it this way? Or was it an unconscious lie, and, in fact, he did not understand what President Putin was talking to him about?’ Peskov reasoned.
‘I know what was discussed during this conversation, and once again I officially repeat: this is a lie. There were no threats of missile strikes,’ he added.
‘Speaking about the challenges for Russia’s security, President Putin noted that if Ukraine joins NATO, the potential deployment of American missiles at our borders will mean that any missile will reach Moscow in a matter of minutes.’
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov today claimed Boris Johnson was lying about the threat
Zelensky is seen shaking hands with the former prime minister as he visited again on January 22 amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine
Boris claimed Putin made the accusation on a phone call just prior to the invasion of Ukraine
Boris Johnson (L) said Vladimir Putin (R) bragged it would ‘take only a minute’ to kill him with a missile after he warned him to abandon his plans to attack Ukraine
Johnson has continued to be a thorn in Putin’s side since leaving office, conducting a series of high-profile interventions designed to prevent Western leaders from backsliding.
Last week he visited Zelensky in Ukraine again to help bolster support for the president’s demand for more Western tanks.
In a rallying cry in the Daily Mail, Johnson wrote: ‘What conceivable grounds can there be for delay? Why are we not giving the Ukrainians all the help they need, now, when they need it?’
The former PM also dismissed Putin’s threats to deploy his nuclear arsenal if the West steps up support for Kyiv, saying he would ‘become a global pariah and plunge Russia into such a state of cryogenic economic exclusion as to make the current sanctions look moderate’.
Within days, Germany and the United States announced that they would supply tanks to Ukraine, sparking fury in the Kremlin.
In a further escalation of tensions, Russian officials today warned their country is on the ‘verge of a direct collision with the US and NATO’.
They said it is ‘very possible’ there will be no nuclear arms control treaty with America after 2026 due to Washington’s efforts to inflict ‘strategic defeat’ on Moscow in Ukraine.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Washington’s decision to supply Kyiv with 31 of its fast-moving M1 Abrams tanks was an ‘extremely destructive step’ which ‘escalated’ the war in Ukraine.
Ryabkov claimed Washington’s apparent insistence to inflict ‘strategic defeat’ on Russia means that the future of the nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Moscow is in doubt.
He warned that the last remaining pillar of the treaty could therefore expire in 2026 without a replacement.
Source: DailyMail UK