A reported comment by President Vladimir Putin that Russia could capture Ukraine's capital Kiev within two weeks was taken out of context, Itar-Tass news agency quoted a Kremlin foreign policy aide as saying on Tuesday. It quoted Yuri Ushakov as saying that whether or not those words were spoken, the quote "was taken out of context and had a totally different meaning". Italy's La Repubblica reported this week that Putin told European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in a telephone conversation: "If I want to, I can take Kiev in two weeks".
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann took a tougher line on Russia's role in Ukraine on Tuesday, blasting Moscow's "deception and salami tactics" in the conflict and saying Austria was prepared to pay the price of tougher sanctions. It was a significantly harder line from neutral Austria, which until now has been reluctant to hit Russia hard with economic sanctions designed to punish what Western leaders have called unacceptable Russian behavior. "If it is necessary to defend freedom and international law, then Austria will be in the forefront." Austria had been walking a careful line between showing solidarity with European Union peers and keeping the lines of communication open with Moscow, with which it has traditionally had good political and business ties.
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — U.S. military forces attacked the extremist al-Shabab network in Somalia Monday, the Pentagon said, and a witness described ground-shaking explosions in a strike that reportedly targeted the group's leader.