NATO rejects Ukraine no-fly zone, says ‘not part of this’ war
NATO’s secretary general has repeated that the military alliance will not get involved on the ground in Russia’s war in Ukraine, or impose a no-fly zone.
NATO allies rejected Ukraine’s demand for no-fly zones on Friday, saying they were increasing support but that stepping in directly would lead to a broader, even more brutal European war so far limited to Russia’s assault on its neighbour.
“We are not part of this conflict,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference.
“We have a responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine because that would be even more dangerous, more devastating and would cause even more human suffering.”
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed or wounded and more than 1 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Feb. 24, when Russia’s President Vladimir Putin ordered the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.
However due to censorship and constant streams of fake news from all sides facts have been hard to verify.
Support for Ukraine so far has come mainly in the form of far-reaching sanctions on Russia, with EU members on Friday saying more financial punishment was yet to come. NATO members have sent weapons to Ukraine, but stopped short of military action.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated: “We have already strengthened our deterrence and defence. On land, in the air, and at sea. Allies from North America and Europe have sent thousands more troops to the eastern part of the Alliance.
We are deploying the NATO Response Force for the first time. And we have over 130 jets at high alert. And over 200 ships from the High North to the Mediterranean. We will continue to do what it takes to protect and defend every inch of NATO territory.”
At this point and for the sake of clarity before we get carried away with the sabre rattling from the NATO Secretary General, ‘NO NATO’ territory has been invaded nor has there ever been a suggestion from the Russians that they have any intention to do so.
The fact that Russia’s entire premise for the invasion of Ukraine is one based on NATO expansionism must be taken into context. Putin’s entire argument is based on NATO’s military bloc expanding to the east, bringing its military infrastructure closer to Russian borders.
Putin’s claims are recorded in his declaration of war on Ukraine he said:
“Even now, as Nato expands to the east, the situation for our country is getting worse and more dangerous every year. Moreover, in recent days, the leadership of Nato has been openly talking about the need to accelerate, speed up the advancement of the Alliance’s infrastructure to the borders of Russia. In other words, they are hardening their position. We can no longer just continue to observe what is happening. It would be absolutely irresponsible on our part.
Further expansion of the infrastructure of the North Atlantic Alliance, the military development of the territories of Ukraine that has begun is unacceptable for us. The point, of course, is not the Nato organisation itself – it is only an instrument of US foreign policy. The problem is that in the territories adjacent to us, I will note, in our own historical territories, an ‘anti-Russia’ hostile to us is being created, which has been placed under complete external control, is intensively settled by the armed forces of Nato countries and is pumped up with the most modern weapons.
For the United States and its allies, this is the so-called policy of containment of Russia, obvious geopolitical dividends. And for our country, this is ultimately a matter of life and death, a matter of our historical future as a people. And this is not an exaggeration: it is true. This is a real threat not just to our interests, but to the very existence of our state, its sovereignty. This is the very red line that has been talked about many times. They passed her.” -Vladimir Putin
The latest call for a no-fly zone comes after the capture of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant
It follows an overnight attack by Russian forces on Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which the Ukrainian authorities say killed several people. The Zaporizhzhia site, now under Russian control, is said to be stable.
A building was set ablaze during fighting, Ukrainian authorities said on Friday, triggering fears of a potential nuclear disaster. The blaze was later extinguished.
Petro Kotin, the acting president of the state-run nuclear power corporation, Energoatom, said workers had been allowed by Russian forces to go back to their posts at the nuclear plant, but had been working “under the barrels of machine guns” and they were “physically and mentally exhausted”.
The Ukrainian state inspectorate for nuclear regulation said in a statement on its Facebook page the plant had been “captured by the military forces of the Russian Federation”.
Kotin said Russian forces had broken through a Ukrainian barricade on Thursday night with 100 armoured vehicles, and had begun shelling the plant. He said they targeted administrative buildings and the checkpoint at the entrance until they won control of the site.
“As of 9am on 4 March, the station staff were allowed to work, but had been working at the site for almost a day already, so they were physically and mentally exhausted. It is necessary that another shift comes to work,” Kotin said on Energoatom’s Telegram channel.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said it had been informed that “a projectile overnight had hit a training building in the vicinity of one of the plant’s reactor units, causing a localized fire that was later extinguished”.
Russian forces that invaded Ukraine last week have already captured the defunct Chernobyl plant north of Kyiv, which spewed radioactive waste over much of Europe after an accident there in April 1986.
NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg also condemned the attack as “recklessness”.
“This just demonstrates the recklessness of this war and the importance of ending it and the importance of Russia withdrawing all its troops and engaging good faith in diplomatic efforts,” he said.
World leaders condemn Russia
Western leaders on Friday strongly condemned the Russian attack on the nuclear plant, accusing Moscow of endangering millions of people by launching a full-blown war in Ukraine.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed concerns about the safety of people all over Europe.
“The reckless actions of President Putin could now directly threaten the safety of all of Europe,” he said in a statement.
A statement from the office of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi referred to the move as a “heinous attack”.
MORE EU SANCTIONS
Instead of a military presence in Ukraine, EU countries – most of them also NATO members – said they were eyeing more economic sanctions to add to coordinated restrictions that have already targeted Russia’s financial system and elites.
“We will consider everything,” the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said, when asked about the possible suspension of the EU’s gas imports from Russia, which think-tank Eurointelligence said amount to $700 million daily even during the war.
“This is Putin’s war, and Putin has to stop this war,” Borrell said.
It was not immediately clear, however, when the EU would agree on measures given some countries’ heavy reliance on Russian energy supplies.
Better news comes as Ukraine and Russia have agreed to establish corridors for civilians to leave combat zones safely, and for ceasefires to operate while they make the journey.