Boris Johnson reveals in a BBC documentary aired on Monday January 30 how Vladimir Putin got him “somewhat threatened” before the invasion of Ukraine. The former British prime minister returns, in this three-part film, to his telephone conversation with the Russian president in February 2022, when he returned from a surprise visit to kyiv.
At that time, Mr. Putin continued to maintain that he had no intention of invading his neighbor, despite the influx of Russian soldiers into the border regions. Mr. Johnson explains that he warned him of the harsh sanctions that Westerners would take if he went down this path.
“He said to me, ‘Boris, you say Ukraine is not going to join NATO anytime soon. What do you mean by: not anytime soon?” »reports the former head of the British government. “Well, she’s not going to join NATO in the near future, you know that perfectly well”continues the former British leader, early support of the Ukrainians.
“A missile would take a minute”
“At one point he kind of threatened me and said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but, with a missile, it would take a minute'”continues Mr. Johnson. “I think that, from the very relaxed tone he took, the detachment he seemed to have, he was playing with my attempts to get him to negotiate”he adds.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, denied on Monday the comments attributed to Vladimir Putin: “What Mr. Johnson said is a lie. It’s either a deliberate lie, but then for what purpose? Either it is an unintentional lie, insofar as he did not understand what President Putin was telling him. » He adds : “There was no missile threat. Speaking of the challenges for Russia’s security, President Putin had noted that, in the event of Ukraine’s entry into NATO – and the possibility of the deployment of Alliance missiles or American missiles on our borders – that would mean that a missile could reach Moscow in minutes. If this passage has been misinterpreted, then it is a very embarrassing situation”he continued.
Sunday, January 22, more than four months after leaving Downing Street, the former British Prime Minister had reappeared, to everyone’s surprise, in Ukrainian lands. After visiting the towns of Borodianka and Boutcha, heavily affected by the fighting, he had taken the direction of kyiv, where Volodymyr Zelensky was waiting for him.
In the documentary, the Ukrainian president describes how he came to be enraged at the attitude of Westerners at the time: “If you know that tomorrow Russia is going to invade Ukraine, why don’t you give me something to stop it today? If you can’t, then stop it yourself. »