Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting on Saturday warned that Ukraine might lose its statehood “if they continue doing what they are doing,” The New York Times reported.
“The current leadership needs to understand that if they continue doing what they are doing, they risk the future of Ukrainian statehood,” Putin said in Moscow, according to the newspaper. “If that happens, they will have to be blamed for that.”
During his meeting he also likened sanctions imposed by Western countries toward Russia as “akin to a declaration of war,” the Times reported, demonstrating an escalation in rhetoric by Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine.
Those remarks were rebuked by some U.S. lawmakers.
“Weaponizing migration & attacks on nuke plants are akin to a declaration of war too,” Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted on Saturday. “The problem is NATO would quickly annihilate #Russia‘s conventional forces & Putin would then use chemical,biological & non-strategic nukes to freeze the conflict.”
Ukraine has been independent for more than 30 years following the collapse of the Soviet Union,
Russia’s invasion of the sovereign nation has been widely condemned by the international community, and Ukraine has called to be included in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance. Russia has demanded that Ukraine not be allowed into NATO.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a European Union membership application as the former Soviet Union country seeks to join the bloc.
“Our goal is to be together with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be on an equal footing,” the Ukrainian president said during a video address, The New York Times reported. “I’m sure it’s fair. I’m sure it’s possible.”