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Putin's 'Take Kiev In Two Weeks' Comment Stirs Tensions

Russian President Vladimir Putin allegedly said he could "take Kiev in two weeks" if he wanted. Russia says the comment was taken out of context.
Posted at 5:10 PM, Sep 02, 2014

A new report quoting Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying he could "take Kiev in two weeks" has added to the growing tensions between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

The comments were published by Italian newspaper La Repubblica, and the outlet reports it was made in a phone conversation with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. 

Though multiple outlets translated the comments into English slightly differently, The Telegraph translates Putin's comments as, "If I want, I take Kiev in two weeks." NPR quotes it as, "I can take Kiev in two weeks." And The New York Times reads"If I want, I will take Kiev in two weeks."

But one Kremlin aide is disputing the statement, saying it was "taken out of context and had a very different meaning."

According to Euronews, the aide claims the comment was "only made to illustrate why Russian troops were not deployed in Ukraine."

RT reports Russia is now threatening to release the full conversation if Barroso doesn't openly debunk the reports in two days. A Russian political aide accused Barroso of leaking the comments and said it "goes beyond the bounds of diplomatic practices."

Russian troop presence in Ukraine is becoming more difficult to deny and would violate a 1994 treaty signed by the two countries, in which Russia promised to respect Ukraine's borders. Now political experts are speculating on the intent behind Putin's comment, as reports that as many as 5,000 Russian troops could be operating within Ukraine — something Putin has also repeatedly denied despite evidence shown in NATO-produced satellite imagery.

FOX NEWS: "He is pursuing a talk and fight strategy. ... His objective, I think, remains getting a government in Ukraine."

MSNBC: "He has decided to double down, and he is now being more belligerent, more assertive in terms of what Russia wants. ... He was sending mixed signals. Now I think it's much more definitive."

The comment comes amid talks with NATO allies to create a rapid-response force as a defensive measure against Russia.

International leaders, including President Obama, are scheduled to meet at a NATO summit Tuesday in the United Kingdom to discuss more possible sanctions against Russia.

This video includes images from Getty Images. ​