Vladimir Putin says he was ready to end Russia’s war with Ukraine 18 months ago, but Boris Johnson scuppered peace negotiations.
In an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the Russian president said, via a translator, that a “huge document” had been prepared and approved by the head of the Ukranian delegation, before Johnson had stepped in and “dissuaded” Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.
“He put his signature and then he himself said, ‘we were ready to sign it and the war would have been over long ago’. However, Prime Minister Johnson came talk to us out of it, and we’ve missed that chance. “
In an interview with The Times in January, Johnson strongly denied the claims, which have been previously aired by Moscow, describing them as “total nonsense” and “Russian propaganda.”
Johnson asserted that, during a conversation with Mr Zelensky following the peace talks in Istanbul, he had “expressed concerns” about the nature of the potential agreement, but assured him of the UK’s unwavering support for Ukraine.
He added that: “No peace proposals or peace agreement were possible in February or March 2022. Russia entered Ukraine solely for the sake of seizing territories, killing citizens and overthrowing a democratic government.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Putin repeated his claim that his invasion of Ukraine, which Kyiv and its allies described as an unprovoked act of aggression, was necessary to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine and prevent the country from posing a threat to Russia by joining Nato.
He pointed at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s refusal to conduct talks with the Kremlin and argued that it is up to Washington to stop supplying Ukraine with weapons and convince Kyiv, which he called a US “satellite”, to sit down for negotiations.
“We have never refused negotiations,” Mr Putin said. “You should tell the current Ukrainian leadership to stop and come to a negotiating table.”
Mr Putin warned that the West will never succeed in inflicting a “strategic defeat” on Russia in Ukraine and rejected allegations that Russia was harbouring plans to attack Poland or other Nato countries.
It was Mr Putin’s first interview with Western media since his full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago.