The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been going on for nearly a month. The plane alarm goes off every day, and bombs keep falling on civilians in many Ukrainian cities.
The situation among civilians is becoming increasingly critical with scarcity of food and other necessities of life.
The Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly asked the West to “close the skies” over the country, that is, to impose a no-fly zone.
No later than Monday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signs Facebook That if a no-fly zone was not imposed, Russian missiles would land on NATO territory.
– It’s just a matter of time, he writes.
Sunday became a strategically important military base Russian missile attackr The military base is located only 20 kilometers from Poland, the country of NATO.
Many countries have said no to a no-fly zone over Ukraine, fearing that the war will escalate beyond Ukraine’s borders.
Among other things, he has US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and NATO President Jens Stoltenberg They warned that the no-fly zone could lead to a full-scale war in Europe.
This is a no-fly zone
Recently, three no-fly zones have been introduced. according to NBC News A no-fly zone was imposed over Iraq after the Gulf War, over Bosnia and Herzegovina during the conflict in the Balkans and over Libya during the civil war in 2011.
Dag Henriksen is Research Leader at Luftkrigsskolen and a Colonel with Professor Empowerment. He can tell that a no-fly zone is designed to fit different situations where such a no-fly zone is necessary rather than a fixed size.
The no-fly zone introduces criteria for who is allowed to use the airspace, Henriksen says.
– This could mean, for example, that aircraft carrying humanitarian aid and aircraft evacuating the wounded are allowed to use the airspace, but not military aircraft such as combat aircraft.
Henriksen says that those who dominate in the air have a significant military advantage because it is then possible to get an overview of the opponent’s whereabouts, provide intelligence to their forces and possibly launch weapons from the air.
Many in Ukraine express fears of bombs and other weapons arriving from the air. Henriksen says if the fear of fighter planes and combat helicopters disappeared, it would make a big difference.
Russia will never agree to a no-fly zone
In the war between Russia and Ukraine, in fact only NATO could impose a no-fly zone.
– The United Nations Security Council also has the opportunity to agree to a no-fly zone, but Russia has a veto in the Security Council, and they will probably never agree to such a ban, says Henriksen.
Thus, it is NATO or the US-led coalition that may have to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine without an explicit Security Council resolution. If NATO offers this, Henriksen believes the defense alliance will take a long step from supplying arms so that Ukraine can defend itself, to actively participating in the war.
The older man walks – then the rocket falls
If NATO chooses to impose a no-fly zone at Ukraine’s request, this also means that NATO must verify compliance with the embargo.
– This means that in this case NATO must be prepared to shoot down Russian aircraft flying in the no-fly zone. There is also regular conflict between Russia and NATO, Henriksen explains.
It will be a big difference for Ukraine
The no-fly zone would be able to prevent enemy military aircraft from flying over Ukraine. Henriksen believes that it can make it easier for the Ukrainian army to organize its forces more efficiently.
It will be a big difference for Ukraine, both militarily and civilianly, says Henriksen.
However, he is not sure whether the no-fly zone will stop the bombing of Ukraine, because Russia has the ability to launch missiles into Ukraine from Russian airspace.
Creating a no-fly zone against a powerful military player like Russia is demanding and requires enormous resources and has not been done before. Henriksen says one must be prepared to fight for this no-fly zone.
It opens up a number of political and military issues, with a high risk of escalation of the conflict.
Henriksen exemplifies this by saying that Russia has some of the best land and sea air defense systems in the world, and these systems can be placed on Russian soil and fire on Allied aircraft operating in a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Then they have to decide whether they want to remove these systems, which in this case will entail military operations against Russian forces on Russian soil.
In the same way, aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone and possibly engaging Russian targets would operate from the airports of NATO countries, opening the door to expanding the conflict far beyond the no-fly zone over Ukraine.
– Russia can place weapons on its territory a few kilometers from the Ukrainian border and fire at targets in Ukraine. If a no-fly is imposed, planes monitoring the area must decide whether to shoot these Russian weapons and thus potentially kill many Russians.
After World War II, the United States and NATO always avoided direct confrontation with Russia, Henriksen explains.
Henriksen clearly does not take a position on whether a no-fly zone should be imposed, but notes that if it were introduced, it would likely lead to a violent escalation of the war.
The no-fly zone is not just a “little war”, but a war against Russia. Henriksen concludes that no one knows how such a war will happen.
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