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Putin threatens Ukraine’s ‘statehood,’ says no-fly zone would be read as act of war

President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Saturday slammed the Ukrainian resistance and sought to blame the government in Kyiv for the war of aggression he is waging against Ukraine.

“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 warned that implementing a no-fly zone over Ukraine — a move Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has beseeched the West to take — would be considered as a delcaration of war against Russia by the Kremlin. 

“Any move in this direction will be viewed by us as a participation in the armed conflict,” he said. “That very second, we will view them as participants … and it would not matter what members they are. That risk is exactly why NATO has been adamantly opposed to implementing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Zelenskyy early Sunday tweeted that he talked to U.S. President Joe Biden about “the issues of security, financial support for Ukraine and the continuation of sanctions against Russia.”

The Financial Times reported on Sunday that the U.S. and Poland are organizing to provide Kyiv with Russian-made jets that are part of Warsaw’s fleet, which Ukrainian pilots know how to fly, which would in turn be replaced with American-made F-16s by Washington.

In a rallying cry video address on Saturday, Zelenskyy called on his army and citizens to mount a counterattack on Russian invading forces.

“You need to go out and drive this evil out of our cities,” he said.

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