US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, talks to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a group photo at an extraordinary meeting of NATO foreign ministers in NATO headquarters in Brussels, Friday, March 4, 2022. AP
“The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighter jets into Ukrainian airspace and then enforce this no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” Stoltenberg said after an urgent meeting with NATO foreign ministers.
“If we did that, we would end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe, involving a lot more countries and causing a lot more human suffering. So that’s why we’re making this decision. painful.”
The U.S.-led bloc’s stance comes despite calls from Ukrainian leaders to help end the indiscriminate bombing of cities across the country.
Stoltenberg warned that “the days ahead are likely to be worse, with more death, more suffering and more destruction as the Russian armed forces bring in heavier weapons and continue their attacks across the country.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba addressed the alliance via video link from Kyiv.
He later tweeted: “My message: Act now before it’s too late. Don’t let (Russian President Vladimir) Putin turn Ukraine into Syria. We are ready to fight. We will keep fighting. But we need partners to help us concretely”. , resolute and quick action, now.”
NATO members have sent thousands of troops to Eastern Europe to bolster Russia’s closest alliance flank and are sending weapons to help Ukraine defend itself.
“We will continue to do what it takes to protect and defend every square inch of NATO territory. NATO is a defensive alliance. Our primary task is to keep our 30 nations safe,” Stoltenberg said. .
“We are not part of this conflict and we have a responsibility to ensure that it does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine.”
Kyiv has said that if NATO is unwilling to shut down Ukrainian airspace, allies should provide fighter jets and air defense systems to help stop Russian air attacks.
European nations have so far said they will not deliver planes and most arms deliveries have focused on small arms and shoulder-fired anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.