Boris Johnson Says Putin Threatened To Kill Him Via Missile Strike

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is out with a whopper of a claim, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to assassinate him with a missile strike when he was still prime minister in the days leading up to the Russian invasion.

Johnson's words, which the Kremlin has called a "lie", have grabbed international headlines and are even featured on The New York Times' front page on Monday. Johnson described in a new documentary for the BBC that 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."

Boris Johnson Says Putin Threatened To Kill Him Via Missile Strike
Via Reuters

The context, according to Johnson, was that it came during a phone call just days prior to the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. The at that time prime minister expressed his belief that Putin was merely "playing along" with him amid negotiations at a time it wasn't yet clear whether Putin was going to order the offensive.

"But I think 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 further described Putin as being "very familiar" - or over overly casual and detached - during that "most extraordinary call"

Johnson additionally claimed he tried to assuage the Russian leader's fears that Ukraine would eventually be admitted into NATO.

In response to the story, the Kremlin has vehemently denied that the "threat" ever took place. "It’s a lie. There have been no missile threats," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov retorted on behalf of Putin. 

"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," Peskov said.

The UK government never published the full transcript of the interview, and a summary readout at the time contained no references to any threat against Johnson by the Russian leader. The former PM during his tenure had been among the most hawkish among Western leaders, reportedly also having actively sought to thwart efforts of Kiev and Moscow to negotiate a ceasefire.

In December he penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal urging NATO countries to abandon their reluctance to send warplanes, tanks, and long-range missiles to Ukraine. As prime minister, he visited Ukraine no less than three times, and then embarked on a follow-up visit after exiting the UK top office in September in the wake of the Covid 'Partygate' scandal.

He's long seen himself as a Churchillian figure and central hero of a Cold War narrative backdrop standing up against the 'evil Russian empire' and his arch-nemesis Putin. As for the BBC documentary wherein he first revealed the alleged direct threat issued by the Russian leader, it is aptly titled "Putin vs the West."

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