Johnson claims Putin threatened him with a missile, but the Kremlin denies it | International

Boris Johnson decided to be one of the strongest voices against the invasion of Ukraine from the very beginning, and he clung tightly to that Churchillian moment to forget all the scandals that were beginning to irreversibly sink his brief term as prime minister. Even now that he has left power, he maintains a desire to monopolize that battle, which leads him to provoke unnecessary diplomatic incidents.

Johnson has now unleashed the wrath of the Kremlin by assuring, in a BBC documentary that will be broadcast at 9:00 p.m. this Monday (10:00 p.m. in Spanish peninsular time), that Vladimir Putin even threatened him with launching a missile and cause his death if he continued to press to prevent the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was during an “extraordinary” telephone conversation, the former British Prime Minister assured, on February 11, in the days before the war began. “At a certain moment he threatened me, and said: ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile it would be a matter of a minute’… or something like that,” Johnson recounted, with the usual ambiguity that he usually does. gala, and that excuses before its defenders the blunders.

Because Johnson himself tries to qualify the seriousness of the accusation below. “I think because of the relaxed tone he was using, the air of nonchalance he seemed to convey, he was just playing along with me in my attempts to get him to agree to negotiations,” the former prime minister explains in the documentary.

Kremlin irritation

Subsequent qualifications have not served to calm the irritation of the Kremlin. The Russian president’s spokesman has lashed out hard at Johnson and called him a liar: “There was no missile threat,” said Dmitri Peskov. “Either it was an intentional lie – and Mr. Johnson will have to be asked why he decided to tell it – or it was an unconscious lie, and he really did not understand what Putin was telling him,” the spokesperson added.

According to Johnson himself, the conversation revolved around the “growing catastrophe” that the war would entail. His message to Putin, he says, was to warn him that a foreseeable invasion would only mean a new battery of Western sanctions and more NATO troops near Russia’s borders. It was precisely when debating the role of the military alliance in the conflict when, as the Kremlin suggests, the misunderstanding of the conversation could have arisen. The Russian president, according to his spokeswoman, assured the British politician that if Ukraine ended up joining NATO, the Alliance’s missiles could reach Moscow in minutes. Johnson, according to his own version, assured Putin that Ukraine was not going to join the military organization “in the near future.”

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The then British Prime Minister established a solid friendship with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, from the beginning. His telephone conversations were almost daily early in the invasion, and Johnson made several surprise visits to kyiv to publicly show his strong support for the Ukrainian government. The popularity of the British politician was growing among the citizens of the invaded country, at the same time that, in the United Kingdom, his intense involvement with the defense of Ukraine was linked by his critics and rivals with the need to escape and put up a curtain smoke over the scandals that increasingly plagued his tenure.

Johnson traveled to Ukraine again on January 22, in another surprise visit that served to meet with Zelenski. This time it coincided with a new scandal in the British press, around the involvement of the new president of the BBC, Richard Sharp, in providing the former prime minister with a loan of almost one million euros, which would help him pay the high costs of his divorce from Marine Wheeler, along with the high bill for the redecoration undertaken at the official Downing Street apartment by Johnson and his present wife, Carrie.

The current prime minister, Rishi Sunak, expressed his support for Johnson and endorsed the visit to Ukraine. “Mr Sunak will always back all colleagues who help make it clear that the UK is behind Ukraine and he will always back their fight,” a Downing Street spokesman said at the time.

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