Putin claims Western-imposed sanctions are ‘akin to a declaration of war’

Sanctions imposed by Western nations against Russia are “akin to a declaration of war,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday.

The Russian leader’s claim came as he delivered his first extended remarks since Russia invaded Ukraine, supposedly to achieve the “demilitarization and de-Nazification” of that country, Reuters reported.

In response to the Russian military’s actions, Western nations — including the U.S. and its European allies — have imposed a host of costly sanctions on Russia.

“Over the past few days, they have frozen hundreds of billions of dollars of Russian assets that are held by their own financial institutions; removed Russian banks from SWIFT, the messaging system that enables international payments; and made many types of foreign investment in the country exceedingly difficult, if not impossible,” according to The New York Times.

“The impact of this brand of supercharged economic warfare was immediate. By Thursday, the value of the Russian ruble had reached a record low, despite efforts by the Bank of Russia to prop up its value,” the outlet added.

Russia’s financial institutions are in trouble, The Times reported.

“Trading on the Moscow stock market was suspended for a fourth day, and financial behemoths stumbled,” the outlet said. “Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, was forced to close its European subsidiaries after running out of cash. At one point, its shares on the London Stock Exchange dropped to a single penny.”

According to Putin, the sanctions are comparable to an act of war.

“These sanctions that are being imposed are akin to a declaration of war but thank God it has not come to that,” he told flight attendants at a Moscow-area Aeroflot training center.

Putin also suggested that Russia will view any country’s decision to declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine — which the Ukrainian government has requested of NATO nations — as what Reuters called “a step into the military conflict.”

“The realization of that demand would bring catastrophic results not only to Europe but to the whole world,” Putin said, according to The Guardian.

The Russian president further claimed that by continuing to resist Russia’s aggression, Ukrainian leaders risked the future of their nation’s statehood.

“The current leadership needs to understand that if they continue doing what they are doing, they risk the future of Ukrainian statehood,” he said.

“If that happens they will have to be blamed for that,” Putin added.