How many languages does Boris Johnson speak? Can UK PM speak Russian, what did he say in video

The Prime Minister addressed the people of Russia in their own language as he spoke of atrocities committed in Ukraine

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (born Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson) has lived in London, Brussels and New York.

He is the first Prime Minister to have been born outside the British Isles, as he was born in New York and held dual British and American citizenship until 2017.

Johnson is believed to speak several common and dead languages, and spoke a few lines of Russian this week in an address about the invasion of Ukraine.

But how many languages can the Prime Minister speak, and what did he say in a video addressed to the Russian people?

How many languages does Boris Johnson speak?

Aside from his native English, Johnson is known to be able to speak several languages with varying degrees of fluency.

His father, Stanley Johnson, worked for the European Commission in Brussels in 1973 and enrolled his son at a multilingual school for the children of the staff.

At this school, Johnson began learning French, which he is now reasonably fluent in.

He appeared on French TV as Mayor of London in 2013 where he was interviewed and gave most of his answers in French.

The Prime Minister spoke a few lines of Russian in a video shared to his Twitter page this week

Johnson also infamously told French president Emmanuel Macron to ‘prenez un grip’ and ‘donnez-moi un break’ in more rudimentary French over a submarine row last year.

In 1975 Johnson began studying at the private preparatory boarding school Ashdown House in East Sussex, where he was taught Latin and ancient Greek.

After Ashdown House came the elite private school Eton, and then a gap year teaching English and Latin in Merrijig, Australia.

Johnson then studied Literae Humaniores (the study of classics) at Oxford, which no doubt included more Latin and ancient Greek.

According to Johnson’s biographer, Sonia Purnell, Johnson “spoke good French and Italian and passed muster in Spanish and German.”

What did Boris Johnson say to the Russian people?

In a video shared to his Twitter page, Johnson addressed the people of Russia directly about the invasion of Ukraine.

In Russian he said: “The people of Russia deserve the truth, you deserve the facts.”

He then spoke in English for a little under two minutes, discussing the atrocities committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine, such as “bodies crudely burnt, dumped in mass graves, or just left lying in the street.”

Johnson returned to Russian for the last line of his address, saying: “Your president stands accused of committing war crimes. But I cannot believe he’s acting in your name.”

The whole address was captioned in both English and Russian, and has been retweeted more than 5,000 times at the time of writing.

Johnson has never studied Russian and it is likely that he learnt the lines he spoke in the video especially for the address.

The International Criminal Court has opened investigations into whether war crimes have been committed in Ukraine, and American president Joe Biden called Russian president Vladimir Putin a war criminal.

Mr Biden said: “You may remember I got criticised for calling Putin a war criminal. Well, the truth of the matter – we saw it happen in Bucha – he is a war criminal.”