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Tipsheet

Putin Says Other Countries Establishing a No-Fly-Zone Over Ukraine Would Be Viewed as 'Participation' in War

Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that efforts by other countries to establish a no-fly-zone in Ukraine's airspace would be viewed by Moscow as "participation in an armed conflict."

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"We hear calls to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine," Putin said, according to The New York Times. "Any moves in such direction will be seen by us as participation in an armed conflict by the country that will create threats to our servicemen."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked NATO to implement a no-fly-zone over his country but NATO has thus far resisted over fears that such a move would provoke an expanded war with Russia.

"Allies agree we should not have NATO planes operating in Ukrainian air space or NATO troops on Ukraine’s territory," NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Friday.

Zelenskyy said Friday that NATO's decision gives "the green light to the bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages by refusing to create a no-fly zone."

Putin warned that the implementation of a no-fly zone would "bring catastrophic results" to the "whole world." He also called western sanctions against Russia "akin to a declaration of war."

"Our proposals are on the table with the group of negotiators from Kyiv," Putin said. "Hopefully, they will respond positively to that."

The Russian president said earlier in his remarks Saturday that Ukraine is endangering its statehood by resisting Russia's military invasion. 

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"The current leadership needs to understand that if they continue doing what they are doing, they risk the future of Ukrainian statehood," he said.

"If that happens, they will have to be blamed for that," Putin continued.

And while there have been fears that Russia may invoke martial law and conscription, Putin explained that he does not intend to impose martial law unless Russia is attacked.

"Only professional military servicemen take part in this operation, officers and contract soldiers," Putin said. "Not a single conscript takes part in it, and we don't plan to send them there."

Russia had declared a temporary cease-fire so civilians could evacuate two besieged Ukrainian cities. But Ukrainian officials accused Russia of breaking the ceasefire in Mariupol on Saturday, blaming Russian shelling for blocking the safe passage for civilians.

More than 1.4 million people have fled Ukraine so far.

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