NATO’s chief said Friday that a no-fly zone over Ukraine is not an option being considered by the alliance.
“We’ve agreed that we should not have NATO planes operating over Ukrainian airspace or NATO troops on Ukrainian territory,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference in Brussels.
He warned that the days to come in Ukraine “are likely to be worse” with “more deaths, more suffering and more destruction,” and appealed for dialogue.
NATO is not seeking a war with Russia, Stoltenberg emphasized.
“Ministers agreed that NATO's relationship with Russia has fundamentally changed for the long term. But we remain committed to keeping channels for diplomacy and deconfliction open to avoid any fundamental escalation, misunderstanding or miscalculation,” he said.
This week, NATO deployed the NATO Response Force for the first time and has “130 jets at high alert and over 200 ships from the high north to the Mediterranean” to reinforce NATO’s defensive posture in the eastern part of the alliance. Stoltenberg pledged that the alliance will “continue to do what it takes to protect and defend every inch of NATO territory.”
“President Putin has failed to divide us. NATO's more united more determined and stronger than ever,” Stoltenberg said.
More background: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been calling for NATO and Western allies to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing invasion and aerial bombardment of its cities.
European Council President Charles Michel said on Thursday that enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine is a NATO decision, but that it would be “one step too far” with a “real risk of escalation and a real risk of a possible third international war.”
The United States has said that it will not put US troops in the air to create a no-fly zone in Ukraine, according to the US ambassador to the United Nations.