Russia distanced itself Tuesday from reports Vladimir Putin said he could capture Ukraine's capital in two weeks if he wanted, claiming the comments had been taken out of context. The Italian newspaper La Repubblica quoted the Russian president on Monday as saying he could "take Kiev in two weeks" during a telephone conversation with European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso. But speaking to Russia’s state-run news agency Itar-Tass on Tuesday, a Kremlin foreign policy aide said the conversation was "taken out of the context and had a very different meaning." He added that if Barroso had disclosed details of the conversation, it would be "incorrect and goes beyond the bounds of diplomatic practices."
The phone call came as Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey wrote on Facebook: "A great war has arrived at our doorstep - the likes of which Europe has not seen since World War Two." Russia’s foreign ministry responded by saying it was "hard to believe that such statements can be made by the defense minister of a civilized state."
- Alexander Smith
First published September 2 2014, 1:34 AM