Putin threatened with missile strike before Russia-Ukraine war: Boris Johnson
Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed in a new BBC documentary that Russian President Vladimir Putin once threatened him with a missile strike during a lengthy phone call before Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year. In the documentary titled Putin vs the West, the Conservative Party MP shared other details regarding Putin and his "special military operation" in Ukraine.
Why does this story matter?
- The UK is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which the Ukrainian government is insistent on joining, much to Russia's chagrin.
- The West formed NATO, an intergovernmental military force, essentially to "defend" itself from the Eastern Bloc under the influence of the now-disbanded Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), of which Russia and Ukraine were a part.
With missile, it would only take minute: Putin told Johnson
In the run-up to the Russia-Ukraine war in February 2022, Johnson said he warned Putin the war would be an utter catastrophe and would invite more Western sanctions and additional NATO troops on Russia's border. Putin allegedly retorted to this, saying, "Boris, I don't want to hurt you, but with a missile, it would only take a minute," claimed Johnson in the documentary.
Not sure if threat was genuine: Johnson
Johnson added Putin's tone was relaxed, and there was no way of knowing if his threat was genuine. However, in an attempt to appease Putin during the "extraordinary" call, Johnson assured him Ukraine wouldn't join NATO "for the foreseeable future." The three-part documentary reportedly examines Putin's interactions with world leaders, from the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 to the Ukraine war in 2022.
Russia attacked UK last in 2018
According to the BBC—a quasi-owned entity of the UK government—Russia has attacked the UK several times, the most recent in Salisbury in 2018. A week after Putin-Johnson's call, on February 11, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace visited Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, who assured him Russia wouldn't invade Ukraine. However, he left Russia with both sides aware it was a lie.
Russia recognized Donetsk, Luhansk as independent states and invaded Ukraine
Russia officially recognized the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic as independent states on February 21. On February 24, Putin launched the "special military operation." As Russian tanks entered Ukraine, Johnson revealed, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called him and calmly said the Russians were "attacking everywhere." Johnson said he offered to help Zelenskyy move to a safer place but he "heroically" stayed put.