On video: Johnson and Zelensky strolling the streets of Kyiv (photo: Reuters, editing: Aviad Belali)
The former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Boris Johnson, revealed tonight (Tuesday) in a special interview with the BBC that Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened him with a missile attack in an "extraordinary" phone call ahead of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
He also added that Putin threatened that it would "only take a minute".
In the interview, Johnson said that this was said after he warned that the war in Ukraine would be an "absolute catastrophe", during a "very long" conversation in February 2022. He then warned Putin that the invasion of Ukraine would lead to Western sanctions as well as the stationing of additional NATO troops on Russia's borders. To calm the spirits, Johnson told Putin that Ukraine would not join NATO "for the foreseeable future."
More in Walla!
Report: Aircraft attacked trucks on the Syria-Iraq border
The Olympic Committee will allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Paris Olympics
Europe: A decision is expected regarding the claim of the Netherlands against Russia regarding flight MH17
Do not compromise on unsatisfactory sex: this is how you will improve performance - with an exclusive discount
"An invasion would be a catastrophe."
Boris Johnson (Photo: Reuters)
"It will only take a minute."
Vladimir Putin (Photo: GettyImages, Mikhail Svetlov/)
"He threatened me at one point, saying, 'Boris, I don't want to hurt you but, with a missile, it will only take a minute' or something like that," Johnson said.
"But I think the very calm tone he took, the kind of detachment he seemed to have - he was just 'playing' with my attempts to get him to negotiate."
"It is impossible to know if Putin's threat was real," Johnson clarified.
But given previous Russian attacks on Britain, most recently in Salisbury in 2018 - any threat from the Russian leader, required Johnson to take it seriously.
Missiles on the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, October 10, 2022 (Photo: Reuters)
"He told me - 'You know, they attack everywhere'."
Volodymyr Zelensky (Photo: Reuters)
Nine days later, on February 11, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace flew to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu.
Wallace ended the visit with promises that Russia would not invade Ukraine, but according to him, both sides knew that this was a lie.
"I think it was to say 'I'm strong,'" Wallace explained, and claimed that it was a kind of "demonstration of bullying or strength."
"I'll lie to you, you know I'm lying and I know you know I'm lying and I'll still lie to you," he described.
He further added that "the rather chilling, but direct lie" confirmed his hypothesis that Russia would invade.
Less than two weeks later, on February 24, as tanks made their way across the border, Johnson received a phone call in the middle of the night from President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"He was very, very calm," Johnson recalled.
"But, he told me, 'You know, they attack everywhere.'"
Johnson said that he then offered to help and move the president to safety, but was refused.
"He did not accept the offer. He bravely stayed where he was," he said.