No fly zone needed to protect civilians, says Zelenskky
Officials warn US may get involved in war directly if no fly zone implemented.
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A recent poll has found that 74 percent of Americans support a NATO-imposed no-fly zone over Ukraine, as the American public has expressed growing solidarity with Ukrainians amid Russia’s invasion.
The Ukrainian government also has urged the US-led alliance to enforce a no-fly zone over the country, saying it is necessary to protect Ukrainian civilians under Russian shelling.
But as the war rages, prompting more than 1.7 million people to flee the country so far, the Biden administration has ruled out such a move, warning that it could spark a direct conflict with Russia – a nuclear-armed power.
Who wants a no-fly zone?
The Ukrainian government has been the most vocal advocate for a no-fly zone over the country.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly pleaded with NATO to bar Russian jets from flying in Ukraine’s airspace, a move he has said would save civilians from attacks. NATO has a treaty for the collective defence of all its members, but Ukraine is not a member of the alliance.
“We repeat every day: Close the sky over Ukraine. Close for all Russian missiles, for Russian combat aircraft, for all their terrorists,” Zelenskyy said on Sunday. What is a no-fly zone? Peter Harris, an associate professor of political science at Colorado State University, explained that a no-fly zone is a “designated geographical space where certain types of flights” are prohibited.
“In this instance, what people are really discussing is designated spaces inside Ukraine – perhaps the whole of Ukraine – prohibiting the use of military planes, specifically Russian military planes in that airspace,” Harris told Al Jazeera.
Harris said a no-fly zone would require destroying Russian air defences that could reach NATO jets in Ukraine and threatening to shoot down Russian planes over the country. “It would be a pretty dramatic escalation by NATO,” he said.
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