Vladimir Putin has reportedly warned the European Union that the Russian military could take Kyiv in two weeks if he gave the order.
The Italian newspaper "La Repubblica" reported on September 1 that Putin told outgoing European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, "If I want, I can take Kyiv in two weeks."
The paper said Putin made the comment during a phone call with Barroso, who relayed it to leaders at an EU summit on August 30.
The report implied Putin's threat was a response to the possibility the EU might impose further sanctions on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis.
Kyiv and Western governments say Moscow has sent soldiers into eastern Ukraine and provided weapons to pro-Russian separatists who have made gains recently in their four-month-old conflict with government forces. Russia denies the accusations.
EU leaders decided at the summit that they should step up sanctions if Moscow does not pull its soldiers back.