Putin threatened to kill me in missile strike, claims former British PM Johnson

Putin threatened to kill me in missile strike, claims former British PM Johnson
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made the extraordinary claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally threatened to kill him in a missile strike just days before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February last year.

"You know, he sort of, he threatened me at one point," Johnson said during an interview with the BBC. "He said: 'You know, Boris, I don't want to hurt you, but with a missile, it would only take a minute.' Or something like that... jolly."

Johnson added that Putin's "relaxed tone", coupled with "the sort of air of detachment that he seemed to have", strongly suggested that Putin was simply "playing along" with his (Johnson's) attempts to negotiate over the issue of Ukraine's entry into NATO.

As many as 200,000 are believed to have either been killed or wounded in the war so far, including nearly 1,000 Ukrainian children.

'This is not a bluff'

Although Johnson did not provide any corroborating evidence about the details of the phone call, Putin's alleged threat would not represent the only time that he has suggested that he might launch a missile attack — including, potentially, a nuclear missile attack — against Western powers over the past year.

In announcing the so-called "special military operation" against Ukraine on 24 February, Putin issued a thinly veiled threat to "those who may be tempted to interfere" with Russia's attempts to conquer Kyiv.

"No matter who tries to stand in our way or all the more so create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately," Putin said. "And the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history."

Just three days later, Putin ordered Russia's nuclear forces to be put on "special alert" following what he claimed were "aggressive statements" by senior NATO officials. Russia later suggested that the reason for this decision was a statement made shortly after the invasion by then British Foreign Minister Liz Truss, who had encouraged British volunteers to travel to Ukraine to fight Russia.

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Moreover, during his announcement of the 'partial mobilisation' of hundreds of thousands of Russian reservists on 21 September, Putin issued a "reminder" to "some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO countries" that "in the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us." He added: "This is not a bluff."

Furthermore, on 7 December, Putin explicitly refused to rule out Russia's potential first use of nuclear weapons: "If [a country] does not use them first under any circumstances, then it will not use them second either, because the possibilities of use in the event of a nuclear strike on our territory are severely limited."

Last Tuesday, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its infamous Doomsday Clock forward by ten seconds to 90 seconds to midnight, and warned that humanity is now "the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been".

In an accompanying press release, the Bulletin explained that the Clock — which had remained at 100 seconds to midnight for the previous three years — was reset closer to midnight "largely (though not exclusively) because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine."

"Russia's thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict — by accident, intention, or miscalculation — is a terrible risk," the Bulletin stated.

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