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Putin Warns Against No-Fly Zone Over Ukraine, Likens Western Sanctions To Declaration Of War

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(RFE/RL) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that punitive sanctions imposed by Western countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are “akin to a declaration of war” and warned that any country that attempts to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine would be considered a party to the conflict.

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“These sanctions that are being imposed are akin to a declaration of war but thank God it has not come to that,” Putin said while speaking at an Aeroflot training center in Moscow on March 5.

Addressing Kyiv’s calls for NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, a request that has been rejected by the Western defensive alliance as well as the U.S. and European leaders, Putin said that “any movement in this direction will be considered by us as participation of the respective country in an armed conflict.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has criticized NATO for confirming on March 4 at an emergency meeting that it would not impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying that the decision would lead to more civilian deaths from Russia’s bombing campaign in Ukraine.

“Today the leadership of the alliance gave the green light for further bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages,” Zelenskiy said of the NATO announcement.

NATO has argued that sending alliance aircraft to patrol Ukraine’s airspace would mean shooting down Russian warplanes, which the alliance has said would risk full-fledged war in Europe and lead to further human suffering.

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Since Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine on February 24, Western countries have imposed a sweeping range of increasingly tighter economic sanctions on Russia in an effort to convince Moscow to stop the war.

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RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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