Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to kill him with a missile strike in the days leading up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Johnson made the claim in a documentary for the BBC, saying Putin “threatened me at one point, and he said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you but, with a missile, it would only take a minute’ or something like that. Jolly.”
A Kremlin spokesperson denied Johnson’s claim, telling reporters that Putin never threatened the British leader with a missile strike, according to Time.
“There were no threats with missiles,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “While talking about security challenges to Russia, President Putin said that if Ukraine joins NATO the potential deployment of U.S. or other NATO missiles near our borders would mean that any such missile could reach Moscow in minutes.”
Johnson detailed a phone call with Putin in the days before the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine by the Russian strongman. Johnson said he felt Putin was just “playing along” with him in negotiations over Russian aggression.
“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,” Johnson said in the BBC series “Putin vs the West.”
Johnson also said that Putin asked him about Ukraine joining NATO, which the British Conservative leader said would not happen “for the foreseeable future.”
Johnson stepped down as British leader in September following a string of scandals, but when in office, established a close relationship between the U.K. and Ukraine.