NATO Rejects No-fly Zone Over Ukraine Amid Damage to Nuclear Plant

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NATO allies rejected Ukraine’s request to set up and enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying that it would lead to a larger, more devastating conflict across Europe.

“We are not part of this conflict, and we have a responsibility to ensure it does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference on Friday in Brussels, echoing statements made by White House officials several days ago about whether a no-fly zone.

For more than a week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for a no-fly zone over his country, which would mean that U.S. and NATO assets would be used to potentially shoot down Russian planes and missiles, which could escalate the conflict. Inside the United States, at least one member of Congress, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), proposed a no-fly zone—drawing significant condemnation.

“We understand the desperation but we also believe that if we did that (a no-fly zone) we would end up with something that could lead to a full-fledged war in Europe involving much more countries and much more suffering,” Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg said that the only way a no-fly zone could be enforced would entail NATO planes shooting down Russian ones.

“Allies agree we should not have NATO planes operating over Ukrainian airspace or NATO troops operating in Ukrainian territory,” the NATO chief said.

Meanwhile, Zelensky and others have called on NATO to send warplanes to Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO or the European Union. About a week ago, reports indicated that some NATO members would send fighter jets to Ukraine but it never materialized. Some NATO members and partners have sent weapons, including anti-tank missiles to Ukraine since the conflict erupted on Feb. 24.

“Every ally in one way or another is coming to Ukraine’s assistance,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday. “Every ally in one way or another is helping to strengthen NATO itself.”

Overnight, Russian and Ukrainian forces battled near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, damaging several buildings, which sparked fears of a Chernobyl-like nuclear meltdown. But U.N. atomic officials said Friday that no reactors were damaged in the fighting.

Zelensky on Thursday again called for a no-fly zone, according to a video posted on social media. The no-fly zone, he added, would ensure that no nuclear plants would be damaged.

“It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant. Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further,” the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv also said in a Twitter post.

By Jack Phillips

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