Putin threatened Britain with missile strike, Boris Johnson says


LONDON — Former British prime minister Boris Johnson says Russian President Vladimir Putin personally threatened him with a missile assault within the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The accusation got here in excerpts of a BBC documentary on Putin and the West set to air later Monday, and Johnson conceded that the Russian chief might need been joking.

Johnson stated Putin made the remarks throughout a “very lengthy” and “extraordinary” name in early February final yr, as Russian troops have been massing alongside the Ukraine border. Johnson, who was prime minister on the time, had not too long ago visited Kyiv to indicate Western assist for Ukraine.

Highway to battle: U.S. struggled to persuade allies, and Zelensky, of danger of invasion

“He form of threatened me at one level and stated, ‘Boris, I don’t need to damage you, however with a missile, it might solely take a minute,’ or one thing like that. … jolly,” Johnson stated.

Russia has one of many world’s largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons, together with longer-range missiles, however Johnson advised that he didn’t regard Putin’s feedback as a severe risk.

“From the relaxed tone that he was taking, the form of air of detachment that he appeared to have, he was simply taking part in together with my makes an attempt to get him to barter,” Johnson stated.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that Putin threatened Johnson with a missile assault and stated that the previous prime minister was both intentionally not telling the reality, or had misunderstood the Russian president.

“It’s a lie, there have been no threats of missiles,” he instructed reporters throughout a press briefing. “Talking about challenges to the safety of the Russian Federation, President Putin famous that if Ukraine joined NATO the potential deployment of NATO or American missiles close to our borders would imply that any missile would attain Moscow in minutes. If this passage was perceived on this method, it is rather embarrassing,” he stated.

For his half, Johnson stated that within the dialog, he had warned Putin that more durable sanctions would observe if there was an invasion and that it might bolster Western assist for Ukraine, leading to “extra NATO, not much less NATO” on Russia’s borders.

“He stated, ‘Boris, you say that Ukraine will not be going to affix NATO any time quickly. … What’s any time quickly?’ and I stated, ‘Properly it’s not going to affix NATO for the foreseeable future. that completely effectively,’” Johnson recalled of the change. Three weeks after their name, on Feb. 24, Russia invaded Ukraine.

Johnson has sought to place himself as one in all Ukraine’s most outspoken supporters. He made a shock go to to Kyiv simply over every week in the past — regardless of having no official function within the British authorities after being ousted from workplace in September after a string of scandals — and met with President Volodymyr Zelensky, pledging that Britain would “stick by Ukraine so long as it takes.”

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In separate feedback from excerpts of the documentary “Putin vs the West,” set to air Monday night, British Protection Secretary Ben Wallace additionally spoke about exchanges with Russian officers throughout a go to to Moscow in February final yr.

Referring to conversations with Russian Protection Minister Sergei Shoigu and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the navy’s Basic Workers, he stated: “I bear in mind saying to Minister Shoigu ‘they’ll struggle,’ and he stated, ‘my mom is Ukrainian, they gained’t!’ He additionally stated he had no intention of invading.”

“That will be ‘vran’e’ within the Russian language. ‘Vran’e’ I believe is form of an illustration of bullying or energy: I’m going to mislead you. I’m mendacity. I do know you understand I’m mendacity, and I’m nonetheless going to mislead you. He knew I knew, and I knew he knew. However I believe it was about saying: I’m highly effective.

“It was the pretty chilling however direct lie of what they weren’t going to try this I believe to me confirmed they have been going to do it. I bear in mind as we have been strolling out, Gen. Gerasimov stated, ‘By no means once more will we be humiliated. We was the fourth military on the planet, we’re now quantity two. It’s now America and us.’ And there in that minute was that sense of probably why [they were doing this].”

Natalia Abbakumova in Riga, Latvia contributed to this report.

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