Putin Warns Over No-Fly Zones
Putin Warns Over No-Fly Zones – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that Moscow would consider any third-party declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine as “participation in the armed conflict.”
Speaking at a meeting with female pilots on Saturday, Putin said Russia would view “any move in this direction” as an intervention that “will pose a threat to our service members.
“That very second, we will view them as participants of the military conflict, and it would not matter what members they are,” the Russian president said.
Putin also warned Saturday that Ukrainian statehood is in jeopardy and likened the West’s sanctions on Russia to “declaring war,” while a promised cease-fire in the besieged port city of Mariupol collapsed amid scenes of terror.
With the Kremlin’s rhetoric growing fiercer and a reprieve from fighting dissolving, Russian troops continued to shell encircled cities and the number of Ukrainians forced from their country grew to 1.4 million.
Bereft mothers mourned slain children, wounded soldiers were fitted with tourniquets and doctors worked by the light of their cellphones as bleakness and desperation pervaded. Putin continued to pin the blame for all of it squarely on the Ukrainian leadership and slammed their resistance to the invasion.
“If they continue to do what they are doing, they are calling into question the future of Ukrainian statehood,” he said. “And if this happens, it will be entirely on their conscience.”
He also hit out at Western sanctions that have crippled Russia’s economy and sent the value of its currency tumbling.
“These sanctions that are being imposed, they are akin to declaring war,” he said during a televised meeting with flight attendants from Russian airline Aeroflot. “But thank God, we haven’t got there yet.”
Ukrainians crowd under a destroyed bridge as they try to flee crossing the Irpin river in the outskirts of Kyiv on Saturday. (Emilio Morenatti/)
Ten days after Russian forces invaded, the struggle to enforce the temporary cease-fires in Mariupol and the eastern city of Volnovakha showed the fragility of efforts to stop the fighting across Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials said Russian artillery fire and airstrikes had prevented residents from leaving before the agreed-to evacuations got underway. Putin accused Ukraine of sabotaging the effort.
The third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine will take place Monday, according to Davyd Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian delegation. He gave no additional details, including where they would take place.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pushed NATO to impose a no-fly zone over his country, warning that “all the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you” as Russian forces were battering strategic locations in Ukraine.© Provided by New York Daily NewsPeople lie on the floor in a hospital during shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Friday.
People lie on the floor in a hospital during shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Friday. (Evgeniy Maloletka/)
“We are doing everything on our part to make the agreement work,” Zelenskyy said. “This is one of the main tasks for today. Let’s see if we can go further in the negotiation process.”
“The Russian side is not holding to the ceasefire and has continued firing on Mariupol itself and on its surrounding area,” said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office. “Talks with the Russian Federation are ongoing regarding setting up a ceasefire and ensuring a safe humanitarian corridor.”
Russia breached the deal in Volnovakha as well, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told reporters. “We appeal to the Russian side to stop firing,” she said. Meanwhile, Moscow outlet RIA Novosti carried a Russian defense ministry claim that the firing came from inside both cities against Russian positions.