Dominic Raab has defied Vladimir Putin’s recent claim that sanctions levelled against him and Russia are a declaration of war.

Speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sky News the Deputy Prime Minister said: “Just to be clear, sanctions are not an act of war, international law (is) very clear about that.

“Our sanctions are entirely both legally justified but also proportionate to what we’re trying to deal with.”

Raab said he thought Mr Putin’s nuclear posturing was “rhetoric and brinkmanship”, and accused the Russian leader of having “a track record as long as anyone’s arm of misinformation and propaganda”.

He continued: “This is a distraction from what the real issues are at hand, which is that it’s an illegal invasion and it is not going according to plan.”

Raab also called on China and India to take a more active role in adding diplomatic pressure to Russia.

On Saturday, March 5 President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia would consider any third-party declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine as participation in the war there.

Shadow defence secretary John Healey said today that a no-fly zone over Ukraine would give the Russian president a “get-out-of-jail-free card”.

He told Trevor Phillips On Sunday on Sky News: “Nato has ruled it out and the most essential thing is that the western alliance remains together.

“The big risk is that it gives Putin the grounds to rapidly escalate this conflict and, of course, it gives him the get-out-of-jail-free card to explain to his own people why his military campaign, his invasion in Ukraine, is not going well.”

He continued: “The hard fact is Ukraine is not a member of Nato.

“The best thing that Britain and western countries can do at the moment is step up the military assistance as we have been doing to help Ukrainians defend themselves.”