Vladimir Putin says the sanctions imposed on Russia by western countries over the invasion of Ukraine are like a declaration of war.
Speaking to flight attendants on Saturday at an Aeroflot training centre near Moscow, Putin insisted he only wanted to “demilitarise” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
“These sanctions are methods of fighting against Russia,” he said.
“These sanctions that you can see are equivalent to declaring a war – but thankfully it has not come to an actual war but we understand what these threats are about.”
Putin also warned that any attempt to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine would be seen as “participation in the armed conflict”.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had asked the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) for a no-flight-zone over Ukraine in order to protect the country from Russian missiles but the appeal was rejected.
NATO had said taking such an action could result in a “full-fledged war in Europe involving many more countries”.
Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, a series of sanctions have been imposed on Russia by the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and the European Union.
Some of the sanctions include blocking certain Russian banks’ access to the SWIFT payment system and freezing the foreign assets of the country’s central bank.
Three of the country’s wealthy individuals were sanctioned by the UK while the Council of Europe also suspended Russia from the continent’s human rights organisation.
In addition, FIFA and UEFA also suspended Russian clubs and national teams from all competitions.