The Kremlin said on Monday that former British prime minister Boris Johnson was lying when he said President Vladimir Putin had threatened him with a missile strike during a phone call in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine.
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that what Johnson said was not true, or "more precisely, a lie".
Johnson, speaking to the BBC for a documentary, said the Russian leader had threatened him with a missile strike that would "only take a minute".
"He 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," Johnson said.
Peskov said: "There were no threats of missiles."
"It is either a deliberate lie - so you have to ask Mr. Johnson why he chose to put it that way - or it was an unconscious lie and he did not in fact understand what Putin was talking to him about."
Peskov said Putin had explained to Johnson how, if Ukraine joined the Western NATO alliance, US or NATO missiles placed near Russia's borders would mean any missile could reach Moscow in a matter of minutes, and suggested that there may have been a misunderstanding.
"If that's how this passage was understood, then it's a very awkward situation," Peskov said.