An aide to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia did not deny a report that Mr. Putin had told José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, “if I want, I will take Kiev in two weeks.” Credit Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti, via Reuters

MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has told a European official that he could “take Kiev in two weeks” if he wanted to, adding a new dimension to the tensions building in Ukraine as Russian forces become more involved in the fighting there.

As NATO leaders gathered in Wales for a summit meeting, Mr. Putin’s remarks and the increasing presence of Russian military units in Ukraine presented NATO with a stark new challenge about how to respond to Moscow’s apparent willingness to exert military force to achieve its foreign policy goals.

The Kremlin did not deny the remark, which was published in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Monday, but on Tuesday it denounced the European official, José Manuel Barroso, for leaking details of what Mr. Putin understood to be a private telephone call on Friday.

“Whether these words were said or not, in my viewpoint, the quote given is taken out of context, and it had an absolutely different meaning,” said Yuri Ushakov, a Kremlin aide, according to the Interfax news service.

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It was the first Kremlin response to the article, in which Mr. Barroso, the president of the European Commission, relayed Mr. Putin’s response to his question as to whether Russian troops had crossed into eastern Ukraine.

“That is not the question,” Mr. Barroso said Mr. Putin told him. He continued, referring to the Ukrainian capital, “But if I wanted to, I could take Kiev in two weeks.”

On Tuesday evening, Vladimir Chizhov, the Russian envoy to the European Union, said Russia had an audio recording and a transcript of the conversation, and was prepared to release them to a “dispel any misunderstandings.”

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Mr. Putin is known for littering his public statements with twists of braggadocio, immortalized in a vow he made as prime minister in 1999 to root out terrorism in Russia.

“If we catch them in the toilet, we’ll whack them in the outhouse,” he said of the terrorists then. On Tuesday, however, Mr. Ushakov said that if Mr. Barroso relayed a diplomatic conversation to the newspaper, it was he who had been out of line.

“It appears to me to be simply unworthy of a serious political figure,” he said.

The war of words has expanded across Europe in advance of the NATO summit meeting on Thursday and Friday, when the alliance’s leaders are expected to endorse a rapid-reaction force of 4,000 troops for Eastern Europe.

That prompted Mikhail Popov, the deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, to announce that the country would revise its military doctrine to account for “changing military dangers and military threats,” including, he said, NATO expansion. In an interview, he called the expansion of NATO “one of the leading military dangers for the Russian Federation.”