LONDON: Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had threatened to hit Britain with a missile just before ordering his forces to invade Ukraine. Putin’s threat to Johnson came over a phone call just shortly ahead of Russia launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, according to a new BBC documentary.
The BBC documentary shows Boris Johnson revealing how Putin warned him that he could have sent a missile to hit Britain “within a minute.” Johnson also told the documentary makers that Putin’s threat came after he warned that the war would be an “utter catastrophe” during a “very long” call in February 2022.
The documentary, which is scheduled to be broadcast on Monday, reveals the details of the long phone conversation that took place between the two leaders and also examines Putin’s interactions with world leaders.
The documentary also reveals that the UK PM warned Putin against invading Ukraine, which he said, would lead to Western sanctions and more NATO troops on Russia’s borders. Johnson also tried to deter Russian military action by telling Putin that Ukraine would not join NATO “for the foreseeable future”.
However, Putin was not convinced, claimed Johnson who further said, “He ( Russian leader) 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.”
Former UK Pm also revealed that he and other Western leaders had been hurrying to Kyiv to show support for Ukraine and try to prevent a Russian attack. Johnson, during those days, emerged as one of the most impassioned Western backers of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Nine days later, on 11 February, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace flew to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu.
The BBC documentary – “Putin Vs the West” reveals Wallace left with assurances that Russia would not invade Ukraine, but he said both sides knew it was a lie. He described it as a “demonstration of bullying or strength, which is: I’m going to lie to you, you know I’m lying and I know you know I’m lying and I’m still going to lie to you.
Less than a fortnight later, as Russian tanks rolled over the border on 24 February, the UK PM received a phone call in the middle of the night from President Zelensky, the documentary says. “Zelensky’s very, very calm,” Johnson recalled. “But, he tells me, you know, they’re attacking everywhere,” he said. Johnson also offered to help move the Ukraine President to safety, however, he refused to leave his country.