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Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Saturday that he views the sanctions that have been applied against his country as a soft declaration of war and that if the West takes the additional step of imposing a no-fly zone, it really could be a war.
“These sanctions that are being imposed are akin to a declaration of war but thank God it has not come to that,” he said during a press conference held at an Aeroflot training center, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
Aeroflot is Russia’s largest airline.
Putin stressed that any attempt to impose a no-fly zone “will be considered by us as participation of the respective country in an armed conflict.” In other words, a no-fly zone would be an indication to him of a hard declaration of war.
PUTIN – “These sanctions that are being imposed are akin to a declaration of war but thank God it has not come to that “
— Phil Stewart (@phildstewart) March 5, 2022
The Russian president has in effect drawn a red line much like former U.S. President Barack Obama did in 2012 after being asked about what would compel him to apply military force in Syria. However, Obama wound up reneging on that threat.
It’s possible Putin would renege as well. Recall that late last month, he warned of “consequences greater than any you have faced in history” for nations “who would consider interfering [in Ukraine] from the outside.”
Yet since that threat was made, dozens of country have actively gotten involved in the conflict by supplying Ukraine with weapons.
“The Dutch are sending rocket launchers for air defense. The Estonians are sending Javelin antitank missiles. The Poles and the Latvians are sending Stinger surface-to-air missiles. The Czechs are sending machine guns, sniper rifles, pistols and ammunition,” according to The New York Times.
U.S. President Joe Biden meanwhile authorized $350 in “defense aid” to Ukraine last Friday. The package reportedly consists of Javelin antitank missiles and Stinger antiaircraft missiles, among other goodies.
And as previously reported, the White House is trying to persuade Congress to authorize $10 billion more for the crisis in Ukraine.
“[W]e’re requesting $10 billion to deliver additional security assistance for Ukraine, to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance for the Ukrainian people, and more support for stronger sanctions enforcement, and for U.S troop deployments to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank and deter Russian aggression,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.
“This is an urgent priority. I think everybody would agree — Democrats, Republicans, the American people. And it is urgent that we can continue to deliver on our commitment to support the Ukrainian people.”
‘The bank account is empty’: WH links COVID, Ukraine funding in ‘urgent’ request https://t.co/pxNeSzxd4B
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) March 5, 2022
When juxtaposed next to all this interference, both Putin’s inaction and his changing rhetoric have some convinced that he’s growing weaker.
Putin: “We’ve prepared for these sanctions”
Putin: “Let’s normalize relations. These sanctions are an overreaction”
Putin: “These sanctions are a declaration of war.”
Each of these statements show weakness, that sanctions are hurting him, and that we need more sanctions.
— Noah Callaway ❤️🇺🇦 (@ncallaway) March 5, 2022
Putin is running out of threats… beside a full out nuke war, which will be the end of Russia (and probably the world). He is in a very weak position in Russia and internationally, and getting weaker by the day.
— Cube VoidY (@CVoidy) March 6, 2022
Putin has already called sanctions by NATO an “act of war” do you see nukes flying. It’s an empty threat from a desperate little man.
— Randy (@Randalhargrove) March 6, 2022
I am no warmonger but based on what we have seen of the Russian military over the last 10 days Putin’s threat is an empty one ….
— viewfromnz (@viewfromnz) March 6, 2022
Empty threats, Putin is holding an empty hand.
— Psychic Milou (@PsychicMilou) March 5, 2022
The Russian president’s latest threat came hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy released a defiant video statement slamming NATO countries as “weak” and “insecure” over their refusal thus far to implement a no-fly zone.
“All the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you, because of your weakness, because of your lack of unity,” he said.
“The alliance has given the green light to the bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages by refusing to create a no-fly zone. All that the alliance was able to do today was to pass through its procurement system 50 tons of diesel fuel for Ukraine.”
Zelensky comes down hard on NATO: ‘All people who die from this day forward will die because of you’ https://t.co/ZAGQtNqSS0
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) March 5, 2022
NATO nations remain firmly opposed to the establishment of a no-fly zone because of concerns it could trigger World War III.
“The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO planes – fighter planes – into Ukrainian airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reportedly said at a NATO meeting in Brussels that occurred a couple of hours before Zelenskyy’s remarks.
He added that were a no-fly zone imposed, “we’ll end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe involving many more countries and causing much more human suffering.”
The question now is whether it’d be worth calling what might very well be Putin’s bluff. If he really is bluffing, then establishing a no-fly zone would quickly put an end to the conflict in Ukraine. But if he’s not bluffing, then all hell wound break loose …
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