Kremlin accuses Boris Johnson of lying after he said Putin 'threatened to kill him with a missile strike'

30 January 2023, 00:08 | Updated: 30 January 2023, 10:43

Boris Johnson meets Zelenskyy in Kyiv
Boris Johnson meets Zelenskyy in Kyiv. Picture: Getty

By Adam Solomons

Boris Johnson has claimed Vladimir Putin 'threatened to kill him' in a missile attack ahead of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in what the former PM describes as an "extraordinary" exchange.

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The Russian leader made the eerie claim in a phone call shortly before the invasion of Ukraine, Mr Johnson said, with Putin allegedly adding: "I don't want to hurt you, but with a missile, it would only take a minute."

But the Kremlin accused Mr Johnson of lying. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov today hit back, telling reporters that he had fabricated the allegations.

"What Mr. Johnson said is not true. More precisely it's a lie... There were no missile threats," Peskov declared.

Ex-PM Johnson visited Kyiv last February in a late effort to show Western solidarity with Ukraine.

Within days, Russian tanks began rolling into the European nation marking the start of the war.

Mr Johnson also claims he told the Russian leader the escalation would lead Western nations to increase support for Ukraine, meaning "more NATO, not less NATO" along Russia's borders.

Read more: Putin shifting Ukraine war focus ‘to NATO and the West’, says EU official as Western tanks prepare to face Russians

Read more: Boris: Send Ukraine tanks now to speed up its inevitable victory, boot out the Russians and end this economic pain

President Putin allegedly told Mr Johnson that 'it will only take a minute' to strike Britain
President Putin allegedly told Mr Johnson that 'it will only take a minute' to strike Britain. Picture: PA

Johnson also recalled that he warned Mr Putin there would be tougher Western sanctions if he ordered an invasion of Ukraine.

"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 perfectively well,'" Mr Johnson said of the call with Mr Putin.

"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," Mr Johnson said.

"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."

Making the claims as part of a new three-part series for BBC Two, he discusses how the West grappled with Putin in the years leading up to the war in Ukraine.

A Russian Sarmat missile is pictured during a weapons test
A Russian Sarmat missile is pictured during a weapons test. Picture: Alamy

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also spoke to the Putin vs The West programme, set to air on Monday evening, about his journey to Moscow in February as he sought to reach a breakthrough and see off war.

He recalls speaking to Russia's minister of defence Sergei Shoigu, as well as chief of general staff Valery Gerasimov.

"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," Wallace said.

The programme also hears from Mr Zelensky about his efforts to win over Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

"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," Mr Zelensky said.

"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."

Countries need to continue to support Ukraine

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