"Putin vs. the West" is the name of a documentary that will be broadcast on Britain's BBC this Monday evening. And according to what has already become known from the film, the Russian president did not shy away from personal threats from Western heads of government at the beginning of his campaign against Ukraine.
Former British Prime Minister Johnson reports in the documentary on an "extraordinary" phone call with the Kremlin ruler in February last year. In this, Putin is said to have personally threatened Johnson with a rocket attack. "'Boris, I don't want to hurt you, but with a rocket it would only take a minute', or something like that," Putin told him.
It is unclear whether the Russian President was serious about his threat. Johnson suspects, however, that it was part of Putin's negotiating strategy of some kind. "I think because of the very relaxed tone he was using, the kind of distance he seemed to have, he was just toying with my attempts to get him to negotiate." The British prime minister, like other heads of state and government, tried in vain in February to stop Putin from attacking the neighboring country.
Among other things, Johnson wants to have assured that Ukraine will not join NATO "in the foreseeable future" and that Russia has announced severe sanctions in the event of an invasion. He also predicted to Putin that a war against Ukraine would end in a "complete catastrophe" for Russia.
Regardless of the seriousness of the threat against Johnson, Russia has repeatedly shown in the past that it is willing and able to carry out attacks abroad, for example in Salisbury, England, in 2011 or in Berlin in 2019.
On the night of February 24, the phone rang again at 10 Downing Street, Johnson continues to report in the BBC documentary. On the other end of the line: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is said to have been "very, very calm". "But, he said to me, 'You know, they attack everywhere.'"
Sources: BBC, DPA news agency