Moscow has dismissed as “a lie” accusations made by Britain’s former Prime Minister Boris Johnson that Russian President Vladimir Putin had allegedly threatened the United Kingdom with a missile strike prior to the war in Ukraine.
In a documentary by BBC on Putin’s interactions with world leaders over the years, Johnson, who served from July 2019 until September 2022, said the Russian president had threatened him during a phone call on February 11 with a missile strike that would “only take a minute.”
Putin “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,” Johnson said, recalling the conversation. He also said he tried – during the “most extraordinary call” – to deter Russian military action by telling Putin that Ukraine would not join NATO “for the foreseeable future.”
On Monday, the Kremlin responded to the accusation, denouncing it as a mere “lie” by Johnson, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying what the former prime minister said was “not true”, or “more precisely, a lie.”
“There were no threats of missiles. It is either a deliberate lie – so you have to ask Mr. Johnson why he chose to put it that way – or it was an unconscious lie and he did not in fact understand what Putin was talking to him about,” Peskov said.
Johnson said the phone call was made after he visited Kiev to assure Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky that the UK would back his country if Russia were to invading
Russia launched what it calls “a special military operation” in Ukraine on February 22, 2022, over the perceived threat of the ex-Soviet republic joining NATO. Since then, the United States and Ukraine’s other allies, including the UK, have sent Kiev tens of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems. Western countries have also imposed a slew of economic sanctions on Moscow. But they had until recently refused to send their most advanced weapons to Kiev.
The Kremlin has time and again warned the sanctions and the Western military assistance will only prolong the war.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Peskov said Putin had explained to Johnson how, if Ukraine joined NATO, US or NATO missiles placed near Russia’s borders would mean any missile could reach Moscow in a matter of minutes. “If that’s how this passage was understood, then it’s a very awkward situation,” Peskov said, telling reporters that Johnson had fabricated the allegations.