There have been concerns among some that President Joe Biden’s harsh economic sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might go too far and risk provoking retaliation from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Those concerns appear to have been justified as Putin stated Saturday that he viewed the sanctions imposed by the United States and its European allies to be the equivalent of a “declaration of war” against Russia, Reuters reported.
The Russian president went on to warn that any further escalation by the West — and certainly any direct intervention, such as the imposition of a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine — would result in “catastrophic” consequences.
“These sanctions … are akin to a declaration of war”
In televised remarks on Saturday, Russian President Putin defended his ongoing invasion of Ukraine and lashed out defiantly against the severe sanctions imposed by the West that have all but crippled the Russian economy.
“These sanctions that are being imposed are akin to a declaration of war but thank God it has not come to that,” Putin said.
According to Politico, Putin also issued a sharp threat against Ukraine and its future existence as a nation-state if it persisted in trying to coax additional support and direct intervention — such as the establishment of a “no-fly zone” — from NATO.
“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 also noted that there would be “catastrophic” consequences if a “no-fly zone” were to be imposed. The U.S. and its allies have explicitly refrained from taking such a drastic step due to legitimate worries that it would inevitably result in direct conflict between the U.S. and Russia.
An array of harsh economic sanctions
It is unclear what, specifically, may have elicited this rhetoric from Putin, but CNN had reported just a couple of days prior that President Biden’s administration had rolled out yet another tranche of financial sanctions against Russia, this time targeting individually named wealthy oligarchs and their families.
A White House “fact sheet” on Thursday announced the punitive measures aimed at “Putin’s cronies” that involved freezing and blocking and potentially even seizing assets owned or located outside of Russia, such as “their yachts, luxury apartments, money, and other ill-gotten gains,” among other restrictions.
These are just the latest sanctions to be imposed and follow other moves such as denying Russian access to allied airspace, the exclusion of Russia’s financial institutions from the global banking system, and severe constraints imposed on that nation’s exports and imports.
In addition, and though not an official government action but certainly with the administration’s support, dozens of multinational corporations and entities have summarily cut off Russia from participation or service in a variety of markets, all of which has resulted in economic devastation for Russia and its people.