v + T – normal size
Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin told him, in a phone call before the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, “I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile, it only takes a minute.”
The British “BA Media” agency quoted Johnson as saying that the “unusual” conversation took place last February after he visited Kyiv in a last-ditch attempt to show Western support to Ukraine amid growing fears of a Russian attack.
Johnson, who emerged as a staunch supporter of Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration in the months following the Russian military operation, echoed that claim in a new three-part series for the BBC looking at how the West grappled with Putin in the years leading up to the war in Ukraine.
The former prime minister, who was forced out of office as British prime minister last September, visited Kyiv in early February to warn Russia that the military operation would be disastrous.
Johnson indicated that he had warned Putin that there would be tougher Western sanctions if he ordered the start of the military operation in Ukraine.
He also said he had told the Russian leader that the escalation would only increase Western support for Ukraine which would mean “more NATO presence, not less NATO presence” on Russia’s borders.
He added that Putin told him during the call, “Boris, you are saying that Ukraine will not join NATO any time soon. […] What time soon? I said, “Well, you’re not going to join NATO in the foreseeable future. You know that very well.”
Johnson added: “He kind of threatened me and said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile, it only takes a minute, or something.'”