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 lead to catastrophic consequences for the world.
Putin reiterated that his aims were to defend Russian- speaking communities through the “demilitarisation and de-Nazification” of the country so that Russia’s former Soviet neighbour became neutral and no longer threatened Russia.
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 mposed are akin to a declaration of war but thank God it has not come to that,” Putin said, speaking to a group of flight attendants at an Aeroflot training centre near Moscow.
He said any attempt by another power to impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine would be considered by Russia to be a step into the military conflict. Such a step he said would have catastrophic consequences for Europe and the world.