March 7, 2022
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated his call to Washington to approve the creation of a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Moscow would consider “any move in this direction” a threat to the Russian military.
US lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties have shied away from Kiev’s request to establish a no-fly zone over the country, citing the danger of a direct military confrontation with Russia.
“I think we need to be clear that we are not going to war with Russia. That would be the beginning of World War III, would drag all of Europe into a much broader war,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said in an interview with Fox News Sunday.
“One thing is certainly true: shooting down Russian planes would require a declaration of war from Congress – which isn’t happening,” Murphy later tweeted.
The senior Democrat’s remarks were echoed by Republicans including Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, who told Fox that the US does “not want to engage directly with Russians.”
“And I don’t think that’s in the best interest of NATO, our partners and allies and friends. But what we can do is provide all the defensive mechanisms for President Zelensky and his armed services to provide their own protected airspace. And that starts, of course, with providing air platforms to President Zelensky, making sure that those pilots are able to protect their own airspace,” she said.
The Biden White House has repeatedly eschewed the idea of a US or NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“Because for everything we’re doing for Ukraine, the president also has a responsibility not to get us into a direct conflict, a direct war with Russia, a nuclear power, and risk a war that expands even beyond Ukraine to Europe. That’s clearly not our interest,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
Senator Joe Manchin – the West Virginia Democrat known for taking stances opposed to Biden’s, told Meet the Press he would “take nothing off the table” when it comes to the crisis in Ukraine. “But I would let – be very clear that we’re going to support the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian president and his government in every way humanely possible,” Manchin said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Saturday that Moscow would treat any aircraft or other military assets seeking to impose a no-fly zone as a military target.
“We are hearing voices that a no-fly zone should be imposed over Ukraine. It is impossible to do this in Ukraine. It can only be done from the territory of neighbouring states. However, we will consider any move in this direction as participation in the armed conflict of the country from whose territory a threat to our servicemen is created. We will consider them participants in hostilities that very second. Their membership in any organization will not matter. So I hope the understanding of this is there and it will not come to this,” Putin said.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek indicated Monday that a decision by NATO to set up a no-fly zone over Ukraine would “mean a large-scale military operation beyond the North Atlantic Alliance’s borders,” and be outside the bounds of legality.
US and NATO-instituted no-fly zones were implemented against Iraq, Bosnia and Libya at various points between 1991 and 2019, with the Libya no-fly zone used as a justification for NATO forces to bomb Muammar Gaddafi loyalist forces in 2011. The operation ended with Gaddafi’s overthrow, and Libya was turned into a failed state.
The civil aviation organizations of the US and other countries prohibit or advise against flights in a number of other nations or regions, including eastern Ukraine and Crimea, North Korea, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt’s northern Sinai, northern Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.