Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky branded Vladimir Putin a “nobody” as he suggested that it was too late for face-to-face talks with the Russian leader to make any difference.
Mr Zelensky, who turned 45 on Wednesday, also praised his “special bond” with Boris Johnson but declined to say whether he would like to see him return as prime minister one day.
In an interview with Sky News, Mr Zelensky described the Russian president as a “man who said one thing and then did another” as he said he was not interested in meeting him.
Speaking in English, he said: “It is not interesting for me. Not interesting to meet, not interesting to speak. Why? Because we had meeting with him in Normandy Format, it was before full-scale invasion.
“I saw the man who said one thing and then did another. So for me, I can’t understand – is it his decisions or somebody else? So to meet what – to shake hands? Not interesting. To speak? I really don’t understand who makes decisions in Russia.”
Asked if it was too late for one-on-one talks with Mr Putin to prove useful in resolving the war, Mr Zelensky said: “Too late, not interesting. Who is he now? After full-scale invasion, for me he is a nobody.”
The interview also saw the wartime leader quizzed on his relationship with Mr Johnson, who following the invasion last year quickly became one of the most vocal backers of Ukraine on the world stage.
Since his Downing Street exit, he has continued to offer wholehearted support to Mr Zelensky and has called on western allies to arm Ukraine with the resources it needs to help end the war.
Mr Zelensky declined to say whether Mr Johnson should get an official role representing the UK on Ukraine, appearing to laugh at the suggestion and indicating that the former PM might not be ready for such a role.
“He is good guy,” he said. “Who knows? With pleasure, with pleasure, really.”
But he declined to say whether he would like to see Mr Johnson enter Downing Street again, instead praising his “good relations” with Rishi Sunak.
“I think that is not correct for me to support Johnson to be prime minister.
“We have good relations with Sunak. I think we had more long relations with Johnson, because it was more long-time.
“I saw Johnson in different situations, I saw him not in war and then in full-scale war, that’s why we have special relations.”