What is a no-fly zone?: Ukraine’s request to NATO that Russia would consider a declaration of war | International

The harsh Russian offensive against Ukraine has led President Volodymyr Zelensky to ask NATO and its allies for weapons, but also for the creation of a no-fly zone to prevent attacks from the air on the invaded country. The United States and the EU have mobilized to provide weapons to the Ukrainian forces – the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has raised this Sunday the possibility of sending combat planes from Poland to Kiev, in exchange for giving Ukraine Warsaw more modern appliances. Western allies, on the other hand, have ruled out declaring a no-fly zone in Ukraine. The Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, has threatened to use all military means at his disposal to hit any third country that interferes in the conflict. This Sunday, Russia has also warned that it will consider neighboring countries that allow Ukrainian planes to use their air bases as an active party in the conflict.

What is a no-fly zone?

It consists of prohibiting all military flights in a certain area to avoid aerial missions of attack, surveillance or observation.

What advantages would it have for Ukraine?

It would prevent the bombing of Russian aviation and reduce the operational capacity of President Vladimir Putin’s army in the invasion of a country with more than 600,000 square kilometers.

Has it ever been used?

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Yes, more than one. For example, in the conflicts in Libya (2011), in northern Iraq (between 1991 and 2003) or in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1993-95).

What was the trigger?

In the case of Libya, preventing the air forces of Muammar Gaddafi’s government from crushing the revolts of the Arab Spring in the country. In other cases, humanitarian reasons or to stop the persecution and death of certain ethnic groups within a country have been invoked.

How is compliance with the ban guaranteed?

By military means. Any device that enters the exclusion zone can be shot down.

Who exercises surveillance?

It depends on each case. In Libya it was an international coalition. In northern Iraq were American, British and French forces. And NATO took over the operation in the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia.

What is the position of the West in this case?

You have ruled out applying an exclusion zone. “The allies have agreed that there should be no NATO aircraft in Ukrainian airspace and no NATO troops on Ukrainian territory,” Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last Friday at the end of an extraordinary meeting of the Allies. foreign ministers of the 30 allied countries.

Why do Westerners refuse to apply exclusion in Ukraine?

For fear that it will cause an escalation of the conflict and a head-on clash between nuclear powers such as Russia and the main NATO allies (the United States, the United Kingdom and France). “The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO planes, fighter jets into Ukrainian airspace, and from there you apply the exclusion by shooting down Russian planes,” Stoltenberg explained Friday. The experts also recall that the first measure for an exclusion is to destroy the anti-aircraft material of the possible enemy, which could force the bombing of Russian positions in Ukraine.

The secretary general of the Alliance added that the allies are convinced that if they carry out this operation they will be heading for “a situation that could end up provoking a total war in Europe, involving many more countries and causing much more human suffering.” Stoltenberg’s words are perhaps the first by an international leader to evoke the risk that the conflict over Ukraine could lead to a third world war.

What has Russia said about it?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Zelenski on Saturday of trying to involve NATO to drag Westerners into an armed clash with Russia. “He tries to provoke a conflict with NATO participation, between NATO and Russia,” Lavrov told a news conference. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on February 24, at the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, that he would use all military means at his disposal to hit any third country that interferes in the conflict. All Western capitals have interpreted those words as a threat to use nuclear bombs. Putin and Lavrov have stressed several times in recent weeks that Moscow is ready to use its atomic arsenal. And the Russian president told French President Emmanuel Macron in one of his recent phone conversations that “Russia is going to win this war, no matter what.” This Sunday, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry warned that “the use of the air bases of these countries as bases for the Ukrainian air forces, followed by their deployment against the Russian armed forces, could be considered as an involvement of these countries in armed conflict.

If necessary, who would have to authorize or decide the exclusion zone?

There are no clearly defined international rules on the adoption of such a measure. In some cases, it was done with the express authorization of the United Nations, as was the case of Libya, approved by the Security Council with 10 votes in favor and five abstentions (Germany, Russia, China, India and Brazil). In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the UN also emphatically called for a no-fly zone to put an end to the human catastrophe caused by one of the fronts of the Balkan conflict. In Iraq, on the other hand, the UN resolutions in favor of an intervention for humanitarian reasons were used as a starting point, although these texts did not contain the explicit authorization to use military means.

Would the operation be expensive?

Definitely. Ukraine is the largest country in Europe, after Russia, so the area to be covered would be huge. The exclusion zone requires very frequent aerial patrolling. The bill would also depend on the duration of the conflict. Experts agree that the Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion may lead to a long-term war. US involvement in the southern Iraq exclusion zone alone cost some 700 million euros a year, according to a report by the US Congressional Research Service.

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