Boris Johnson has claimed that Vladimir Putin threatened to murder him in a rocket attack last year, the Mirror reports. The fomer UK PM alleges in a new three-part BBC documentary that the Russian President warned him: “I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile, it would only take a minute.”
Mr Johnson claims the “extraordinary” conversation happened last February over the phone, following his visit to Kyiv in a final attempt to show support for Ukraine amid growing fears of a Russian attack. In the programme, which is about the relationship between Putin and the West, he revealed the conversation came about after he told Putin that there would be tougher penalties if the Russian leader ordered an invasion of Ukraine.
You are reading: Boris Johnson claims Vladimir Putin threatened to target him with missile attack in BBC documentary
He also informed him that the escalation would only result in Western states increasing their support for Ukraine, meaning “more Nato, not less Nato” on Russia’s borders. Mr Johnson said Putin replied with: “Boris, you say that Ukraine is not going to join Nato any time soon. […] What is any time soon?” and the then-Prime Minister replied: “Well it’s not going to join Nato for the foreseeable future. You know that perfectly well”.
He continued: “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. 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.”
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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace who also featured in the programme opened up about his trip to Moscow in the same month to meet with Russia’s minister of defence Sergei Shoigu and chief of general staff Valery Gerasimov. He recalled: “I remember saying to Minister Shoigu ‘they will fight’ and he said, ‘my mother is Ukrainian, they won’t!’
“He also said he had no intention of invading. That would be ‘Vran’e’ in the Russian language. ‘Vran’e’ I think is sort of a demonstration 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’m still going to lie to you. He knew I knew and I knew he knew. But I think it was about saying: I’m powerful.
“It was the fairly chilling but direct lie of what they were not going to do that I think to me confirmed they were going to do it. I remember as we were walking out General Gerasimov said, ‘Never again will we be humiliated.
“We used to be the fourth army in the world, we’re now number two. It’s now America and us.’ And there in that minute was that sense of potentially why [they were doing this].”
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Volodymyr Zelenskyy revealed in the documentary that he attempted to win over Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The Ukraine president said: “I told him: ‘Jens, I want to join Nato, do you see us in Nato?’ Because nothing would defend our country except for actual membership.
“I said: ‘It’s just unfair and not nice. You don’t see us as equals.’ I told him that our army is ready, our society is ready, and I believed that Nato is not ready.”
Mr Zelenskyy discussed his frustration with the Nato position ahead of the conflict. He added: “If you know that tomorrow Russia will occupy Ukraine, why don’t you give me something today I can stop it with? Or if you can’t give it to me, then stop it yourself.”
Putin vs the West will be broadcasted on BBC Two on Monday at 9pm.
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