Hot Q&A: Why NATO is reluctant to set a no-fly zone in Ukraine
2022-03-03 20:34:11Source: Xinhuanet
Xinhua News Agency reporter Hu Ruoyu
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky again called for the establishment of a no-fly zone in Ukraine on the 1st. However, in the past few days, both the top NATO leaders who vowed to strongly support Ukraine, and the leaders of the United States and the United Kingdom, who have spoken harshly to Russia, have all rejected the proposal in unison.
What is a no-fly zone
The no-fly zone, also known as the no-fly zone, refers to the airspace where any aircraft without a special application permit is prohibited from flying into or over. There are two main forms. One is the control measures taken by a sovereign state to restrict flight in specific airspace within its airspace under special circumstances and during a special period of time. The establishment of such a no-fly zone is a power conferred by state sovereignty; the other is when a conflict occurs. Under the circumstance that one or some countries or organizations have designated special restricted airspace in the conflict area to restrict the flight activities of the aircraft of the parties involved in the conflict in the restricted airspace, only under the premise of the authorization of the United Nations and other international organizations, the establishment of such No-fly zones are legal.
In March 2011, during the civil war in Libya, the UN Security Council passed a resolution deciding to establish a no-fly zone in Libya. In March 1993, during the Bosnian War, the Security Council passed a resolution authorizing member states or regional organizations to take all necessary measures, including military means, to enforce the resolution on the no-fly zone in Bosnia and Herzegovina previously passed by the Security Council. In addition, after the Gulf War ended in 1991, in order to safeguard their strategic interests in the Middle East, the United States, Britain and other countries successively set up two no-fly zones in Iraq, the north and the south, but they were not authorized directly by the United Nations.
How no-fly zones work
The analysis pointed out that in some cases, the no-fly zone has changed into a new form of international intervention in specific practice, which facilitates certain countries or military groups to achieve the goal of intervention with limited military strikes, and even lead to regime change.
Taking the Libyan no-fly zone as an example, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries have carried out air strikes against the Libyan government forces while supporting the Libyan opposition forces. NATO then took over command of military operations against Libya. The original situation was precarious, the rebels were able to turn the tide of the war and eventually overthrew the Gaddafi regime.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov once pointed out that in the process of implementing the relevant resolutions of the Security Council on Libya, the concept of the no-fly zone was completely distorted by NATO countries, and in fact became a military operation to assist a party in Libya’s domestic conflict.
After the establishment of the no-fly zone in Bosnia and Herzegovina, NATO air strikes on the armed ground forces of the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina shot down the armed Serb fighter jets, forcing the Serbs to accept the harsh ceasefire plan proposed by the United States. After the United States and Britain established a no-fly zone in Iraq, conflicts with Saddam Hussein’s regime continued in the no-fly zone. The United States and Britain often bombed military and civilian targets in the no-fly zone under various pretexts, causing a large number of Iraqi civilian casualties.
Why did NATO refuse
In the above-mentioned cases, the country or military group that established the no-fly zone supports the weaker party in the domestic conflict and has an absolute military advantage over the target of air strikes. However, the situation in the Ukraine conflict is different. Russia has the second largest air force in the world, after the United States.
The Pentagon has made it clear that the option of establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine will not be discussed at all. US Defense Secretary Austin said in an interview with NBC News on the 2nd that President Biden has made it clear that the US military will not fight Russia in Ukraine. The establishment of a no-fly zone is bound to lead to a conflict with Russian fighter jets, “that would put us in a situation of war with Russia.”
British Prime Minister Johnson said on the 1st that “we will not go to war with Russia in Ukraine” and that NATO reinforcements will be stationed in NATO member countries. The idea of a no-fly zone over Ukraine is currently unrealistic and not within NATO’s consideration.
NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg reiterated that NATO will not conflict with Russia. According to him, NATO is responsible for keeping the situation in Ukraine under control and “avoiding escalation into a war across Europe involving NATO allies.”
According to a report on the US Defense One website, it was precisely because of the fear of triggering an open war between the United States and Russia that the United States decided in 2016 to abandon the establishment of a no-fly zone in the Syrian opposition-controlled area. (Participating reporter: Guo Chunju)