Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that the sanctions posted by the U.S. and other Western countries are equivalent to a declaration of war. He added that any nation that imposes a no-fly zone over Ukraine would be entering an active war.
“These sanctions that are being imposed are akin to a declaration of war but thank God it has not come to that,” Putin said on Saturday, as reported by Reuters.
He said that any country that imposes a no-fly zone over Ukraine would be involving itself in an active military conflict.
“We will immediately consider them as participants in a military conflict, and it doesn’t matter members of which organizations they are,” Putin said. “It is impossible to do it, on the very territory of Ukraine, it’s possible only from the territory of some neighboring states. But any movement in this direction will be considered by us as participation in an armed conflict.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called on the U.S. and NATO to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine to prevent Russia from bombing key Ukrainian targets, including its nuclear infrastructure.
Zelensky most recently urged for a U.S. no-fly zone on a call with U.S. lawmakers early Saturday morning.
However, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that alliance members are in agreement that planes and troops should not be over or in Ukraine amid its conflict with Russia.
“NATO is not part of the conflict,” Stoltenberg said. “We do not seek war, conflict with Russia. At the same time, we need to make sure there is no misunderstanding about our commitment to protect all allies.”
President Joe Biden and his administration have said repeatedly that the U.S. will not be establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine because it would require the U.S. to send troops into the country to enforce it – an act that Biden said he’s unwilling to do.
“It would require deploying U.S. military to enforce, which would be a direct conflict — potentially a direct conflict and potentially war with Russia, which is something we are not planning to be a part of,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a press briefing on Monday.
Putin also said Saturday that the conflict in Ukraine was going as planned, saying, “Our army will fulfill all the tasks. I don’t doubt that at all. Everything is going to plan.”