(CNN Spanish) — Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC that Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened him with a missile in a phone call before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The then prime minister had warned Putin that invading Ukraine would trigger Western sanctions and more NATO troops on Russia’s borders during a phone call in February 2022, the BBC reported.
“[Putin] He said: ‘Boris, you say that Ukraine is not going to join NATO in the near future.’ She said it in English. And I said: ‘Well, it’s not going to join NATO in the near future. You know that,'” Johnson said of the call.
“At one point he threatened me and said: ‘You know, Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile it would only take a minute. Or something like that. You know…”, the former prime minister said.
“I think because of the very relaxed tone he was adopting, the kind of detached air he seemed to have, he was just playing along with my attempts to get him to negotiate,” the former prime minister added.
The exchange was released in advance of the BBC documentary “Putin vs. the West,” which examines Putin’s interactions with world leaders and is set to premiere on Monday.
Russia denies it
The Kremlin assured this Monday that Boris Johnson’s statement “is a lie”
“What Mr. Johnson said is not true. More precisely, it is a lie,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a regular conference call.
Peskov said he is aware of what was discussed during that conversation, but stressed that “there were no missile threats.”
According to Peskov, “Talking about the security challenges for the Russian Federation, Putin noted that should Ukraine join NATO, the possible deployment of US or NATO missiles near our borders would mean that any missile would arrive in Moscow in a matter of minutes.”
“If this passage was understood like this, it is a very uncomfortable situation,” he added.
Johnson told the BBC early Monday that Putin threatened him with a missile that “would only take a minute.” The exchange was released in advance of the documentary “Putin vs. the West,” scheduled to premiere Monday, which examines Putin’s interactions with world leaders.