Speed Reads

Crisis in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin: I can 'take Kiev in two weeks' if I want

Despite demands from the U.S. and its Western allies that Moscow reverse course in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has instead suggested he could topple the Ukrainian capital in a fortnight if he felt like it.

In a phone call with outgoing European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Putin bristled when their conversation turned to the allegation that Russian military vehicles and troops had last month entered Ukraine. "The problem is this," Putin responded, according to Italy's La Repubblica. "What if I want to take Kiev in two weeks?"

A source confirmed the remark to the German magazine Der Spiegel, though in slightly different phrasing.

To be sure, the threat is almost certainly more bluster than a serious warning of looming military action. Russia has denied that its military has even crossed into Ukraine to aid pro-Russian separatists there, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday called for an immediate cease-fire.