The case of the no-fly zone in western Ukraine – POLITICO

Tom Enders is the chairman of DGAP (German Council on Foreign Relations) and a former CEO of Airbus.

Russia’s air strikes this weekend on targets near the borders of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania in the far west of Ukraine have given new impetus to calls for a no-fly zone in the country.

Citing concerns about nuclear escalation, the United States, NATO and the European Union have refuse Ukraine demanded protection from Russian air attacks. But there’s a more limited version of the proposal that doesn’t need to be discussed.

Shooting down Russian planes over Ukraine – including near Russian territory and Russian air bases – is a threat to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Deploying such a large no-fly zone is not only extremely expensive; it would also be seen as confrontational and it would be difficult to achieve by the NATO air force deployed today – at least if Turkey did not participate, this is supposed to be assumed.

However, it would be much less of a challenge to close Ukrainian airspace to Russian warplanes near NATO’s eastern border. Such a move would be both tactically and operationally feasible from air bases in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, where existing forces could be augmented by units from adversaries. other NATO partners, including the US, UK and Germany, had Eurofighter personnel stationed in Romania.

In addition, the French Patriot and SAMP/T surface-to-air defense system complex stationed near the border could cover a large part of western Ukraine’s airspace. Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and, of course, the US have the Patriot system, which has an effective range of more than 100 km.

Establishing such a no-fly zone over six to eight western Ukrainian turrets would not only provide much-needed military support to Ukrainian forces on the ground; it will soon become imperative from a humanitarian and logistical point of view.

If the West stood still while Putin’s air force indiscriminately attacked refugee convoys, aid organizations and the Ukrainian military within sight of NATO’s borders, it would be a moral disaster. from which the “free West” will be difficult to recover.

Even if ethical considerations were put aside, a no-fly zone over western Ukraine would help prevent the war from spreading unchecked into NATO territory by giving the aggressor clarity. clear “so far and no further!” message – at least in air combat conditions.

Would Putin then escalate further and attack NATO countries in the east or the Baltic, even using nuclear weapons? This is still very unlikely, especially since the West will not attack Russian territory – there are only Russian planes, cruise missiles and missiles in Ukrainian airspace.

The establishment of such a no-fly zone over western Ukraine is not only possible; it’s necessary. It is time for the West to expose Putin’s nuclear threats for what they are – a hoax to prevent Western governments from militarily intervening. The case of the no-fly zone in western Ukraine - POLITICO

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