- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked a no-fly zone to be put in place over Ukraine.
- A no-fly zone would prohibit Russian aircraft from entering Ukraine by means of combat.
- NATO is reluctant to do so, noting it would lead to warfare with Russia.
As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with NATO and its allies in recent days over ways to end the invasion of Russian troops, he recommended countries, including the United States, impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
The request comes after Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the United Nations, told CNN on Sunday President Joe Biden’s administration would not impose a no-fly zone because that would mean American troops would be in Ukraine. Biden had recently ordered Europe and US-based troops be sent to NATO borders, saying last week they are “totally defensive moves.”
The Federal Aviation Administration put a no-fly zone in place for Ukraine, Belarus and a western portion of Russia, and Biden announced at the State of the Union he would also ban Russian flights from entering US airspace as the European Union has already decided. However, imposing a no-fly zone in Ukraine could mean engaging with Russian forces, something officials are attempting to avoid.
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How does a no-fly zone work?
A no-fly zone restricts any aircraft, passenger, carrier or military, from flying over any restricted region. They are often used for any major events as a safety precaution; an example would be the FAA’s restrictions and no-drone zone implemented around SoFi Stadium for Super Bowl 56.
In the military world, a no-fly zone is put in place to prevent aircraft from carrying out attacks or performing surveillance on an area. The order is enforced by military aircraft, which includes attacking and taking down any aircraft that violates the order.
When have no-fly zones been used before in war?
The US and NATO first implemented no-fly zones in Iraq in 1991 following the Gulf War in an attempt to prevent targeted attacks by Saddam Hussein.
The United Nations has twice imposed a no-fly zone, in 1992 over Bosnia and in 2011 in Libya as a result of military attacks on civilians.
What doesn’t a no-fly zone do?
In the case of Russia, if a no-fly zone was put in place over Ukraine, Russian forces don’t have to necessarily obey the order; there is no imaginary forcefield preventing Russian President Vladimir Putin from ordering airstrikes on Ukraine.
Will a no-fly zone lead to military engagement?
All signs indicate a no-fly zone in Ukraine would lead to the US and NATO allies engaging in combat. Russian aircraft have conducted airstrikes that have resulted in hundreds of Ukrainian deaths, so in order to enforce the no-fly zone, NATO aircraft would have to engage with Russia.
Zelenskyy awning Axios in a statement that a no-fly zone would help Ukraine “defeat the aggressor with much less blood.”
But not everyone is on board with it.
When asked about the no-fly zone by Ukrainian journalist Daria Kaleniuk, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson said enforcing it would lead to “consequences that would be very difficult to control” and it’s “not on the agenda of any NATO country.”
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday implementing the no-fly zone could lead to US troops fighting Russian troops, which could possibly be the official beginning of a war.
“It would essentially mean the US military would be shooting down plans, Russian plans. That is definitely escalatory. That would potentially put us in a place where we are in a military conflict with Russia. That is not something the president wants to do, ” Psaki told MSNBC. “We are not going to have a military war with Russia with US troops.”
Thomas-Greenfield said doing so would “put American troops in danger.”
“That means we’re not going to put American troops in the air as well, but we will work with the Ukrainians to give them the ability to defend themselves,” Thomas-Greenfield told CNN.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism