Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the D.C. outlet Axios in a statement on Monday that his country “needs the West to impose a no-fly zone,” a significant escalation potentially tantamount to an act of war.
“The sanctions are heading in the right direction. In addition to disconnecting the Russian Central Bank from SWIFT and providing more Stingers and anti-tank weapons, we need the West to impose a no-fly zone over significant parts of Ukraine,” Zelensky said in a statement to Axios.
“Ukraine can beat the aggressor. We are proving this to the world. But our allies must also do their part,” he added.
On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told MSNBC that it is “not something the president wants to do,” and “that’s not a good idea.”
“We are not going to have a military war with Russia with U.S. troops,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says. pic.twitter.com/7oZlvPGv7w
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 28, 2022
“Well, here’s what’s important for everybody to know about a no-fly zone: What that would require is implementation by the U.S. military,” Psaki said. “It would essentially mean the U.S. military would be shooting down planes, Russian planes.”
“That is definitely escalatory,” she continued. “That would potentially put us into a place where we’re in a military conflict with Russia – that is not something the president wants to do.”
Per Axios, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told MSNBC that there are “no intentions” for such action.
“We have no intentions of moving into Ukraine neither on the ground or in the airspace,” said Stoltenberg. “We have a responsibility to make sure that this doesn’t spiral out of control that escalates even further into concern for full-fledged war in Europe involving NATO allies.”
In a tweet Friday, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) stated that the West should “declare a #NoFlyZone over Ukraine.”
1) The fate of #Ukraine is being decided tonight, but also the fate of the west. Declare a #NoFlyZone over Ukraine at the invitation of their sovereign govt. Disrupt Russias air ops to give the heroic Ukrainians a fair fight. It’s now, or later.
— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) February 25, 2022
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have voiced their opposition to Kinzinger’s suggestion. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) – who has repeatedly rejected the idea of any statement of support for anti-communist movements, such as congressional bills aiding the Hong Kong protests of 2019 and the Uyghur people facing genocide in China – quoted the Illinois representative’s tweet and slammed the idea as “insane.”
No. This is insane. https://t.co/5wAIuHtdYE
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) February 26, 2022
Democrat Rep. Sara Jacobs (CA) likened such a move to a declaration of war.
“A no-fly zone is enforced, not declared,” Jacobs tweeted Saturday. “It requires our fighter jets to go directly against Russian fighter jets, to get them to stay out of a certain airspace. If the U.S. were to do this, our fighter jets would potentially have to shoot down Russian jets.”
“This would mean the U.S. declaring war on Russia. The same goes for if a NATO ally were to enforce the no-fly zone. They too might have to shoot down Russian jets,” she continued in a follow-up tweet.
“And if Russia retaliated, as they certainly would, our Article 5 obligation would be triggered – and the U.S. would be at war with Russia,” she added.