Boris Johnson alleges that Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to murder him with a missile strike during a phone call preceding the invasion of Ukraine, the British publication The Independent reported Sunday.
The former U.K. prime minister, now a staunch supporter of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, recounts the "extraordinary" exchange in a new three-part BBC documentary series, "Putin vs. The West."
The documentary follows Johnson's visit to Kyiv in early February to warn Russia of the ramifications of an invasion.
"He said, 'Boris,'" Johnson reflects on his call with Putin, "'you say that Ukraine is not going to join NATO anytime soon [...] What is anytime soon?' and I said 'Well, it's not going to join NATO for the foreseeable future. You know that perfectly well.'
"He sort of threatened me at one point and said, 'Boris, I don't want to hurt you, but with a missile, it would only take a minute,' or something like that.
"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," Johnson added.
The announcement of the documentary comes as the chairman of NATO's Military Committee, Rob Bauer, announced on Sunday, that the military alliance is ready for a direct confrontation with Russia.
On Saturday, Bauer spoke with the Portuguese publication RTP.
"This is an important signal for Russia ... that we are prepared if they decide to go after NATO. This is a red line. If there is a red line, then it is the Russians crossing our borders," he said.
When probed on NATO's apprehension regarding escalation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Bauer dismissed the notion that Ukraine's aspiration to reclaim its rightful territories constitutes escalation. Instead, he asserted that "the true escalation lies in the initiation of Russian aggression."
"If [the Russians] stop the war today, there will be no escalation," Bauer said.
But on Jan. 19, Bauer said that Russia would remain a threat to NATO even if its forces are defeated in Ukraine.
According to professor John Mearsheimer, an international relations scholar, Putin's primary goal in the Russia-Ukraine war is to break up the neighboring country so that it functions as a bulwark against NATO expansion.
Speaking to the CRUX news platform, Mearsheimer said, "Putin thinks what is going on in Ukraine, with regard to Ukraine's moving toward joining NATO, moving toward joining the [European Union], and cozying up with the West, is just unacceptable from a Russian security point of view.
"And [Putin] is determined to either turn Ukraine into a neutral state and if he can't do that, turn it into a dysfunctional rump state. And if you look at what is happening now, he is, in effect, turning it into a dysfunctional rump state," added Mearsheimer.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.