Vladimir Putin has described sanctions on Russia as being "equivalent to declaring a war".
The Russian President claimed that his invasion of Ukraine was driven by a need to protect Russian speakers in the country.
In a surreal scene, Putin was speaking to female flight attendants from state airline Aeroflot in comments broadcast on state television.
The Russian leader said Moscow wanted Ukraine to be "demilitarised", "de-nazified" and to have a neutral status.
He said: "These (sanctions) are methods of fighting against Russia.
"These sanctions that you can see are equivalent to declaring a war - but thankfully it has not come to an actual war but we understand what these threats are about."
Putin also warned Western powers against imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying any such attempt by a third party country would be seen as a step into the military conflict between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
“Any movement in this direction will be considered by us as participation in an armed conflict by that country,” Putin said during the meeting with Aeroflot employees outside of Moscow on Saturday (5 March).
Following the Russian targeting of a nuclear power plant on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the absence of a no-fly zone gives Russia the “green light” to continue bombing Ukrainian cities and towns.
NATO has refused to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of NATO, announced the decision following an urgent meeting of the 30-member alliance in Brussels.
He said helping Ukraine protect its skies from Russian missiles and air attacks would require NATO forces to shoot down Russian aircraft, a move that could result in a “full-fledged war in Europe involving many more countries”.
“We are not part of this conflict,” he added.
“We have a responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine because that would be even more dangerous, more devastating and would cause even more human suffering.”
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