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Putin repeats ‘nonsense’ claim Boris Johnson scuppered efforts to end Ukraine invasion

Vladimir Putin has repeated a claim that Boris Johnson scuppered negotiations for a peace settlement between Russia and Ukraine, which the former UK prime minister has previously labelled “nonsense”.

During a highly anticipated sit-down interview with former Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, the Russian president said, via a translator, that a “huge document” had been prepared and approved by the head of the Ukrainian delegation, before Mr Johnson had stepped in and “dissuaded” Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Putin said of 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 to talk us [Ukraine] out of it, and we’ve missed that chance.”

In an interview with The Times in January, Mr Johnson strongly denied the claims, which have been previously aired by Moscow, describing them as “total nonsense” and “Russian propaganda”.

Mr 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 said: “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.”

Tucker Carlson interviewing Vladimir Putin (Tucker Carlson)
Tucker Carlson interviewing Vladimir Putin (Tucker Carlson)

The former prime minister’s rebuttal came following statements made by David Arakhamiya, the leader of the Servant of the People party in the Ukrainian parliament, and head of the Ukrainian delegation in talks with Russia, in November 2023.

Mr Arakhamiya cited a previous visit by Mr Johnson to Kyiv as forming part of the decision not to negotiate with Moscow in 2022. Mr Johnson had allegedly said that Ukraine “shouldn’t sign anything with them at all – and let’s just fight”.

Speaking of the proposed negotiations, Mr Putin continued: “We have never refused ... and the fact that they obeyed the demand or persuasion of Mr Johnson, the former prime minister of Great Britain, seems ridiculous and very sad to me.

“Because as Mr Arakhamiya put it, we could have stopped those hostilities with war a year and a half ago already. But the British persuaded us and we refused this. Where is Mr Johnson now? And the war continues.”

Asked where he thought Mr Johnson was, Mr Putin laughed, replying: “Hell knows, I don’t understand it myself.”

Conspiracy theories about Mr Johnson’s potential involvement in peace negotiations between the two nations had previously been bandied about by US presidential hopeful Robert F Kennedy Jr.

Mr Kennedy wrote on Twitter/X in June 2023: “Looks like the Biden Administration deployed Boris Johnson to scuttle a tentative peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine in spring 2022. This was never about the Ukrainian people. It was always about engineering a war against Russia,”