Italian daily paper La Repubblica has reported that in a phone call to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Vladimir Putin claimed he could capture Kyiv in a fortnight if he wanted to.
But the Kremlin claims the remarks have been reported out of context and that the Russian president only meant to illustrate why Russian troops were not deployed in Ukraine.
Meanwhile Barroso said that Russia should not underestimate Europe’s resolve, but that it was still not too late for a political solution in Ukraine.
But in an interview on Italian television, Mikhail Popov from the Kremlin, said that because the military infrastructure of NATO was moving closer to Russian borders, including through EU enlargement, NATO would always be an external threat to Russia. He went on to say that it was improper and undiplomatic to have relayed details of the conversation between the two leaders.