In a highly-anticipated interview with Tucker Carlson released on Thursday, Putin said that he was ready to end the war, but Johnson “dissuaded” the leader of Ukraine‘s leading party from signing the document.
Putin said in the interview: “Mr. Johnson, then the Prime Minister, came and dissuaded us from doing this, saying it was better to fight Russia. They would give everything needed for us to return what was lost during the clashes with Russia. And we agreed with this proposal.
“Look, his statement has been published. He said it publicly. Can they return to this or not? The question is, do they want it or not? Further on, president of Ukraine issued a decree prohibiting negotiations with us. Let him cancel that decree. And that’s it. We have never refused negotiations indeed.
“We hear all the time, is Russia ready? Yes. We have not refused. It was them who publicly refused. Well, let him cancel his decree and enter into negotiations. We have never refused. And the fact that they obey the demand or persuasion of Mr. Johnson, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, seems ridiculous.”
Putin continued: “And it’s very sad to me because…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.”
The Kremlin has previously suggested Johnson’s trip to Kyiv in April 2022 was an intervention to derail any peace deals that would see Russia withdrawing its troops.
Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, claimed last year that Johnson had “banned” Kyiv from signing a peace agreement.
In response to the comments, Johnson said to The Times last month: “This is nothing but total nonsense and Russian propaganda.”
Carlson’s interview with Putin marked the Russian president’s first interview to a Western media figure since his full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago.
Putin has heavily limited his contact with international media since he launched the war in Ukraine in February 2022. Russian authorities have cracked down on media, forcing some independent Russian outlets to close, blocking others and ordering a number of foreign reporters to leave the country.
Two journalists working for US news organizations — The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Alsu Kurmasheva — are in jail on charges they reject.
Western journalists were invited to Putin’s annual press conference in December — the first since the war began — but only two were given the chance to ask a question.