President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Western sanctions on Russia were akin to a declaration of war and warned that any attempt to impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine would be tantamount to entering the conflict.
Putin reiterated that his aims in Ukraine are to defend Russian-speaking communities through the “demilitarisation and de-Nazification” of the country so that it became neutral. Ukraine and Western countries have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for the invasion he launched on Feb. 24 and have imposed a sweeping range of sanctions aimed at isolating Moscow.
“These sanctions that are being imposed are akin to a declaration of war but thank God it has not come to that,” Putin said, speaking to a group of women flight attendants at an Aeroflot training center near Moscow.
“That very second, we will view them as participants of the military conflict, and it would not matter what members they are,” Putin continued. It comes after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a stirring attack on Nato – criticizing it for refusing to enforce a no-fly zone and accusing it of leaving his people to die.
Speaking shortly Nato confirmed it would not offer such aerial protection to Ukraine, out of fear of triggering further conflict with Russia, Ukraine’s leader said the military alliance had abandoned his nation. It comes after the Mariupol city council and Ukraine’s presidential office said Russian forces were not observing the agreed ceasefire along the full length of a route for the evacuation of Ukraine civilians.
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