Vladimir Putin has made it clear, that he will declare war on any 3rd party who creates a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
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.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged 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.
Nato has said a no-fly zone, which would bar all unauthorized aircraft from flying over Ukraine, could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia.
His comments came as a ceasefire to evacuate residents from two cities in Ukraine quickly fell apart, with officials saying work to remove civilians had halted amid shelling hours after Russia announced the deal.
The Russian defence ministry said early on Saturday it had agreed on evacuation routes with Ukrainian forces for Mariupol, a strategic port in the south-east, and the eastern city of Volnovakha.
The statement did not make clear how long the routes would remain open. Not long after the statement was made, Mr Zelensky’s office said the ceasefire had already failed.
Deputy head of his office Kyrylo Tymoshenko said: “The Russian side is not holding to the ceasefire and has continued firing on Mariupol itself and on its surrounding area.”
In comments made on Ukrainian television, Mariupol mayor Vadym Boychenko said thousands of people had gathered for safe passage out of the city and buses were departing when shelling began. “We value the life of every inhabitant of Mariupol and we cannot risk it, so we stopped the evacuation,” he said.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEWS9.COM