Former British prime minister Boris Johnson said Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened him with a missile strike in a phone call last year prior to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“He threatened me at one point and said, ‘You know, Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile it would only take a minute. Or something like that. You know…jolly,” Johnson said in an interview with the BBC.
“I think that from the very relaxed tone that he was taking, the sort of air of detachment he seemed to have, he was just playing along with my attempts to get him to negotiate.”
Johnson told the BBC he warned Putin during the phone call in February 2022 that invading Ukraine would lead to Western sanctions and more NATO troops on Russia’s borders.
“[Putin] said, ‘Boris, you say that Ukraine is not going to join NATO any time soon.’ He said it in English: ‘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,” Johnson said of the call.
The exchange was released as a preview to a BBC documentary “Putin vs the West,” scheduled for release Monday, which examines the Russian president’s interactions with world leaders.
Neither Putin nor the Kremlin have publicly commented on the alleged threat.