Shockwaves reverberated through Eastern Europe tonight after Vladimir Putin boasted he could invade five NATO capitals inside two days.
This came amid new reports that almost 4,000 Russia troops are massing in Crimea close to Ukraine's mainland.
'If I wanted, Russian troops could not only be in Kiev in two days, but in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw or Bucharest, too,' Putin was quoted as threatening, according to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko.
All are former USSR or Soviet-bloc cities and apart from Ukraine their countries are now NATO and EU members.
Putin, pictured here at a meeting of the Russian State Council, boasted Russia could be in Kiev in two days - and also in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucarest
Putin allegedly also boasted to Poroshenko about his ability to squash European Union initiatives through bilateral contacts urging him 'not to rely too much on the EU'.
The Kremlin leader claimed he could 'influence and block the adoption of decisions at the level of the European Council', it was alleged.
Respected German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reported that Poroshenko passed on the threat of invasion to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, citing EU diplomatic sources.
Poroshenko warned the US Congress of a threat to 'global security everywhere' posed by the Russian aggression against his nation.
'If they are not stopped now, they will cross European borders and spread throughout the globe,' he said.
The EU failed to deny the extraordinary threat from Putin, though the Kremlin dismissed the German newspaper report.
'We will not conduct diplomacy in the media or discuss extracts of what are confidential conversations,' said EU Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen sidestepping the question. 'What matters to the EU is to contribute to lasting peace, prosperity and stability in Ukraine.'
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the claim as 'another canard', alleging was as inaccurate as an earlier claim that Putin had boasted he could storm Kiev in two weeks.