NATO members discussed Ukraine’s appeals to establish a “no-fly zone” over the country, but the alliance is determined not to engage directly in the military confrontation between Moscow and Kyiv, said Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday, after a meeting with foreign ministers. of the Allies.
“NATO is a defense alliance. Our core mission is to keep our 30 nations safe. We are not part of this conflict. And we have a responsibility to ensure that it does not escalate and spread outside Ukraine,” he said. “NATO is not pursuing a war with Russia.”
As I said, Stoltenberg added, the alliance has intensified consultations with non-member countries Sweden and Finland, which now participate in all NATO events. It also increased support for Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said.
The option of a “no-fly zone”, which Kyiv has requested from NATO members, was “mentioned” during the meeting, Stoltenberg said, but member states “agreed that we would not have NATO planes operating over Ukrainian airspace or NATO troops on Ukrainian territory. . “
A “no-fly zone” would require NATO to shoot down Russian military aircraft involved in Ukraine’s offensive, Stoltenberg pointed out. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned when announcing the invasion last week that every third party trying to intervene in the operation would have consequences “unlike anything they have had in their history”. Many Western nations took it as a thinly veiled threat to use nuclear weapons.
Stoltenberg claimed credit for training and arming tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops over the years, saying that this enabled them to avert the Russian attack now. Putin cited NATO’s insidious expansion in Ukraine as an important reason to order the attack in the first place. Russia has for several years said that withdrawing its western neighbor to NATO would cross a red line and that Russia would have to react to what is seen as an existential threat to its national security.