Threatened by U.S President Barack Obama, reprimanded by NATO and now downgraded by Standard & Poor's: Russian President Vladimir Putin needs a "miracle"to turn round the country's economy, a former ambassador to Moscow has told CNBC.
"He (Putin) fears to appear weak. He's actually presented himself with an insoluble problem," Andrew Wood, the former U.K. ambassador to Russia, told CNBC Tuesday.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg knocked back an accusation on Monday in which Putin claimed that there was a NATO legion fighting alongside Ukrainian armed forces in Ukraine. He called it "nonsense" and said that the only foreign forces in Ukraine are Russian.
Moscow continues to deny the involvement of Russian troops in the conflict, which has once again flared in the eastern region of Ukraine. Over the weekend, 30 civilians were reported killed in Mariupol, in what Kiev says was a rebel rocket attack, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has raised the prospect of further sanctions and EU leaders have called for the same ahead of a meeting of European foreign ministers on Thursday.