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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
James Crisp and Patrick Daly

Kremlin says Boris Johnson lied over claim Vladimir Putin threatened to kill him with missile

Former prime minister of Britain, Boris Johnson. Photo: Reuters/Phil Noble/File Photo

The Kremlin yesterday accused Boris Johnson of lying after the former UK prime minister said Vladimir Putin threatened to assassinate him with a missile strike.

Mr Johnson said the Russian president “sort of threatened me” during a telephone conversation before he launched his invasion of Ukraine....

“He said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile, it would only take a minute’, or something like that,” Mr Johnson told a BBC Two documentary.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said yesterday Mr Johnson’s claim was untrue “or, more precisely, it was a lie. There were no threats with missiles”.

He added: “While talking about security challenges to Russia, President Putin said that if Ukraine joins Nato, the potential deployment of US or other Nato missiles near our borders would mean that any such missile could reach Moscow in minutes.”

Mr Johnson told the producers of Putin vs the West that he had an “extraordinary” conversation with the Russian leader in February after he had visited Kyiv to show western support for Ukraine as fears grew that Russia would launch an attack.

Mr Johnson said Putin had a “very relaxed tone” and an “air of detachment” when they spoke just days before the war started on February 24.

“He was just playing along with my attempts to get him to negotiate,” Mr Johnson said.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman, responding to a question about whether Putin posed a danger to British politicians, said: “I can’t get into specific threats against individuals, particularly senior political figures. I think we’re clear that a failure to act in defence of Ukraine could potentially pose a wider risk to the safety of people in the UK.”

Mr Sunak said yesterday Britain should be “really proud” of standing up to Russian aggression.

The former prime minister, who left Downing Street in September after being forced from office following a series of controversies, made the visit to Kyiv in early February to warn Russia that an invasion would prove disastrous.

Since leaving No 10, he has continued to foster relations with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, visiting Kyiv again earlier this month.

British defence secretary Ben Wallace also spoke to the Putin Vs The West programme, which was set to air last night, about his journey to Moscow last February as he sought to reach a breakthrough and see off

The programme also heard from Mr Zelensky about his efforts to win over the Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

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