Russian forces could take over Kiev in two weeks, President Vladimir Putin reportedly told the EU.
In the last week, more than 1,000 Russian forces have crossed the border into Ukraine to back Russia-aligned rebels. As fears of wider military action grow, EU President Jose Manuel Barroso said Putin claimed his forces could take over the Ukrainian capital within two weeks.
Vladimir Putin was reportedly responding to Barroso pointing out the widespread reports that Russia was escalating the conflict in eastern Ukraine. In addition to the more than 1,000 troops already in Ukraine, there are reportedly 20,000 other Russian soldiers positioned along the border.
The Kremlin was not pleased with Barroso’s statement. An aide to Putin criticized the EU Commission president for breaching confidentiality when he quoted the Russian president and also said the statement was “taken out of context and carried a completely different meaning.”
But Barroso’s statement seems to back other reports that Russia is escalating the conflict.
On Monday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heltey wrote on his Facebook page about Russia threatening a nuclear attack against the country if the government continues its resistance to Russia-aligned rebels.
“The Russian side has threatened on several occasions across unofficial channels that, in the case of continued resistance they are ready to use a tactical nuclear weapon against us,” Heletey wrote.
There are also reports that Russian soldiers massacred more than 100 Ukrainian troops who had negotiated a retreat from a city near Donetsk. Though the report was not verified and no exact death toll given, Ukrainian officials said the shooting was a clear breach of the Geneva convention.
Lt. Col. Nikolai Gordienko of the Ukrainian National Guard said: “They were given the corridor to exit and they were shot. It is a violation of international conventions.”
World leaders are also speaking out against Russia and its invasion of Ukraine and have come together to implement a series of sanctions.
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