Putin Says Russia Will View No-Fly Zone Declaration as ‘Participation’ in War

Russian president Vladimir Putin said his country would view a declaration of a no-fly zone in Ukrainian airspace as “participation” in the ongoing war, in comments to a group of female flight attendants of Russian airliners in the run-up to International Women’s Day.

“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.”

Putin said that the imposition of a no-fly zone “would bring catastrophic results not only to Europe, but to the whole world.”

While Ukrainian officials have called for a no-fly zone over their country, the NATO alliance has already rejected imposing a no-fly zone because such a move would risk expanding the current war.

“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 on Friday.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky blasted the decision on Friday, saying that “the alliance has given the green light to the bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages by refusing to create a no-fly zone.”

Earlier in the Saturday discussion, Putin said that Ukraine’s current leaders will endanger their country’s existence as an independent state if they continue to fight the Russian invasion.

“The current leadership needs to understand that if they continue doing what they are doing, they risk the future of Ukrainian statehood,” Putin told the assembled flight attendants.

Putin also said that the government will not impose martial law in Russia unless the country is attacked. Fears of martial law and accompanying conscription into the military have led some Russians to attempt to flee the country, with plane tickets out of the country selling for several thousand dollars.

Putin’s remarks come amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, with Russian forces attempting to take control of key cities, including the capital Kyiv and the port city of Mariupol. Ukrainian officials accused Russia of breaking a ceasefire in Mariupol on Saturday, halting a planned evacuation of civilians.

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