European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

A Kremlin aide on Tuesday sharply criticised European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for breaching confidentiality when he quoted President Vladimir Putin as saying Moscow could take over Kiev in two weeks, if it wished.

Yuri Ushakov, Mr. Putin’s foreign policy adviser, told reporters that the President’s statement was “taken out of context and carried a completely different meaning.”

Mr. Ushakov lashed out at Mr. Barroso, saying it was a breach of diplomatic practices and “unworthy of a serious politician” to speak publicly about a private conversation.

Mr. Putin’s comment reportedly came in response to Mr. Barroso pointing out Ukrainian and Western claims that Russia had sharply escalated the conflict in eastern Ukraine by sending regular Army units into Ukraine.

Mr. Ushakov on Tuesday reaffirmed Moscow’s denial that it has sent any soldiers in, even though a rebel leader said last week that Russian servicemen on official leave were among some 4,000 Russians fighting in Ukraine.

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