Boris Johnson has said Vladimir Putin threatened him with a missile strike in an "extraordinary" phone call in the run-up to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The then-prime minister said Putin told him it "would only take a minute," James Landale and William McLennan reported for BBC News.
Photo Insert: Boris Johnson with Volodymyr Zelesnky during a trip to Ukraine while the former was still UK Prime Minister
Johnson said the comment was made after he warned the war would be an "utter catastrophe" during a "very long" call in February 2022.
Details of the exchange are revealed in a BBC documentary, examining Putin's interactions with world leaders. Johnson warned Putin that invading Ukraine would lead to Western sanctions and more NATO troops on Russia's borders.
He also tried to deter Russian military action by telling Putin that Ukraine would not join NATO "for the foreseeable future." But Johnson said: "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. Jolly.”
Johnson added: "But I think from the very relaxed tone that he was taking, the sort of air of detachment that he seemed to have, he was just playing along with my attempts to get him to negotiate."
Putin had been "very familiar" during the "most extraordinary call," Johnson said.
It is impossible to know if Putin's threat was genuine. However, given previous Russian attacks on the UK - most recently in Salisbury in 2018 - any threat from the Russian leader, however lightly delivered, is probably one Johnson would have had no choice but to take seriously.