NATO’s Stoltenberg rejects “no-fly” zone over Ukraine

4 March 2022, 07:37 PM

The introduction of a “no-fly” zone over Ukraine could lead to a full-scale war in Europe, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said following a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Mar. 4.

He stressed that NATO troops would not be directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine, either on the ground or in its airspace.

“Our assessment is that we understand the desperation, but we also believe that if we did this, we would end up in a full-scale war in Europe, one involving many more countries, which would lead to much more human suffering,” Ukraine’s Interfax news agency quoted Stoltenberg as saying.

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“This is the reason why we are making this painful decision to impose strong sanctions, to provide significant support, increase support, but at the same time not directly involve NATO troops in the conflict in Ukraine, either on the ground or in the air.”

The secretary general noted that NATO allies are responsible for ensuring that this war does not go beyond Ukraine.

“Because it will be even more dangerous, more destructive and cause even more human suffering. Therefore, we have clearly stated that we are not going to enter Ukraine either on the ground or in Ukrainian airspace,” he said.

Stoltenberg stressed that the only way to introduce a “no-fly” zone is to send NATO fighters into Ukrainian airspace, and then implement it by firing at Russian aircraft.

Ukrainians have been calling for a “no fly zone”, a cessation of activity in Ukraine’s airspace, since the beginning of the Russian invasion. Ukrainians believe that a “no fly zone”, enforced by NATO, could be critical in preventing further Russian missile attacks against targets in Ukraine, including civilian and residential targets.

On Feb. 28, Stoltenberg ruled out enforcing a “no-fly” zone in Ukraine, while condemning Putin’s decision to put his nuclear deterrent forces on high alert.

The White House also announced that the United States does not support the idea of creating a “no-fly” zone over Ukraine.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Kyiv had applied to NATO with a request to close the airspace over Ukraine amid the Russian invasion, and was working on alternative mechanisms for ensuring air security.

At 0500 a.m. on Feb. 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the start of a “military operation” against Ukraine.

Previously, the Russian government had repeatedly stated that it would not attack Ukraine, though it had been massing troops and military hardware to the Ukrainian borders for months.

The confrontation continues for the ninth day. Russia is advancing from the north, east and south, shelling peaceful cities from artillery and from the air.

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