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‘With a rocket, it will take a minute’: Boris Johnson says Putin ‘threatened him’


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In a three-part BBC documentary, the first of which will be broadcast tonight, the former British prime minister refers to a “lengthy” conversation he had with the Russian president following his visit to Kyiv in early February 2022.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tells in a BBC documentary that Russian President Vladimir Putin “threatened” him a few days before he ordered his army to invade Ukraine, telling him that “with a missile, it will take a minute.”

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In this three-part documentary, the first of which will be broadcast tonight on BBC Two, the former Tory government leader talks about his “very long” and “excellent” conversation with the Russian president following his visit to Kyiv in early February 2022.

Even then, Vladimir Putin continued to assure that he had no intention of ordering an invasion of the neighboring country, despite the massive concentration of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border.

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Mr Johnson says he warned the Russian president that the West would impose heavy sanctions on Russia if it went down the path of armed conflict.

“He said to me: ‘Boris, you are saying that Ukraine will not join NATO soon (…) What do you mean when you say ‘soon’?”, says Boris Johnson. “Well, it will not join NATO in the near future, you know that very well,” he adds, as the former prime minister, a big supporter of Kiev, answered him.

“At one point, he seemed to threaten me, he said ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with a rocket, it will take a minute’, or something like that,” says Boris Johnson.

“I think given his very calm tone, the detachment he seemed to have, he was just reacting to my trying to get him to negotiate,” adds the former prime minister, who left Number 10 Downing Street in early September after a series of scandals.

The documentary also features Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who does not hide that he was furious with the behavior of Western leaders before the outbreak of war: “If you know that tomorrow Russia will invade Ukraine, why don’t you give me something with which can i stop her? And if you can’t, stop it yourself”, he says he said.

In the same documentary, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace talks about the trip he made to Moscow in February 2022, as part of his effort to prevent the outbreak of war. He recounts seeing Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

“I remember saying to Minister Shoigu ‘they will fight’, he replied ‘my mother is Ukrainian, they will not fight’. He also said he had no intention of breaking in,” states Mr. Wallace.

“That was something they would call ‘Vranie’ in Russian. ‘Vranie’ means show of force, intimidation: I will lie to you. You’ll know I’m lying. I’ll know you know I’m lying, I’ll lie to you anyway. He knew that I knew and I knew that he knew. But I think the message he wanted to send was that he is powerful.”

“It was the relatively creepy but outright lie that they weren’t going to do it that convinced me they were going to do it. I remember as we were going out General Gerasimov said: ‘We will never be humiliated again. We had the fourth largest army in the world, now we have the second largest. We are America now too.’ And at that moment I got the feeling that potentially that might be the reason” they were going to break in, Mr. Wallace argues.


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