The Kremlin is disputing the context of a controversial quote attributed to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
As Italy’s La Repubblica reported, Putin allegedly issued a defiant warning to European Commission President José Manuel Barros during a phone call.
According to a translation by the Huffington Post U.K., Barros first asked Putin about Russian soldiers on the ground in Ukraine. Putin allegedly responded with this warning: “If I want, I take Kiev in two weeks.”
The Daily Mail reports that Barros relayed the conversation to leaders from the 28 European nations and that’s where La Repubblica learned about the exchange.
The Kremlin, today, disputed the context of the conversation. The Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reports that presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said Putin’s words had a very different meaning and that Barros should not have disclosed the conversation because it goes “beyond the bounds of diplomatic practices.”
“If that was really done, it looks not worthy of a serious political figure,” Ushakov said. “Irrespective of whether these words were pronounced or not, this quote was taken out of context and had a very different meaning.”
It’s worth noting that Russia has also repeatedly denied that its troops have ventured into Ukraine. The U.S., NATO and Ukraine have accused Russia of intervening directly in the conflict.