Ukraine: Vladimir Putin’s position assessed by Richard Dearlove
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The Russian President has instructed border forces to stop migrants with dual citizenship and a Russian passport from leaving the country as he needs more people to fight on the Ukrainian front, the UK Ministry of Defence has said. In its latest update, British Defence intelligence said: “Russian authorities are likely keeping open the option of another round of call-ups under the ‘partial mobilisation’.
“On 22 January 2023, media reported that Russian border guards were preventing dual passport holding Kyrgyz migrant workers from leaving Russia, telling the men that their names were on mobilisation lists.
“Separately, on 23 January 2023, Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the decree on ‘partial mobilisation’ continues to remain in force, claiming the decree remained necessary for supporting the work of the Armed Forces.
“Observers had questioned why the measure had not been formally rescinded.
“The Russian leadership highly likely continues to search for ways to meet the high number of personnel required to resource any future major offensive in Ukraine, while minimising domestic dissent.”
The update came as the Kremlin launched an attack on former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, claiming he told “a lie” when he said that Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to threaten him with a missile strike.
The former Downing Street incumbent made the claim in a new three-part series for BBC Two looking at how the West grappled with Mr Putin in the years leading up to the war in Ukraine.
Mr Johnson, talking about a phone call between the two leaders ahead of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, said: “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.”
But the Kremlin disputed the claim, saying there were “no threats with missiles” during the bilateral conversation held in February 2022.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked about Mr Johnson’s comments on Monday, said that the British politician’s account was untrue, “or, more precisely, it was a lie”.
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Mr Peskov said the former Conservative Party leader may have deliberately lied or failed to understand what the Russian leader was telling him.
“There were no threats with missiles,” Mr Peskov said during a conference call with reporters.
“While talking about security challenges to Russia, President Putin said that if Ukraine joins Nato, the potential deployment of US or other Nato missiles near our borders would mean that any such missile could reach Moscow in minutes.”
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Mr Johnson told the documentary producers that the “extraordinary” conversation took place last February after he had visited Kyiv in a last-ditch attempt to show Western support for Ukraine amid growing fears of a Russian assault.
War would break out only days later, with Russia launching its attack on Kyiv on February 24.
Mr Johnson said Mr Putin had a “very relaxed tone” and an “air of detachment” as he spoke.
“He was just playing along with my attempts to get him to negotiate,” Mr Johnson said.
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