Following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call for a no-fly zone for Russian aircraft due to the bombing the city of Kharkiv took that killed numerous civilians in the process, NATO allies collectively rejected Ukraine’s request stating that they were wary of being dragged into the conflict directly and may perhaps start a larger war in Europe and perhaps the entire world. However, despite not directly interfering with the conflict, they also stated that they would be increasing support to Ukraine.

“We are not part of this conflict,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. He reported that “allies agree that we should not have NATO planes operating over Ukrainian airspace or NATO troops on Ukrainian territory,” as it would worsen the situation further.

“We have a responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine because that would be even more dangerous, more devastating, and would cause even more human suffering.”

The call for a no-fly zone had intensified over the recent shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant last Friday, which caused a fire within the complex which posed a risk of damaging one of its nuclear reactors, reminding the world of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. More so, thousands of casualties have already been reported on both sides of the conflict, with hundreds of civilians dead and more than 1 million refugees leaving Ukraine in fear of their lives.

In an apparent move to try and persuade NATO to support a no-fly zone over Ukraine, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba posted a video on Twitter stating that Russia is trying to turn Ukraine into Syria.

“The tactics they deploy are very similar to the one they excelled in Syria. But we should not allow them to create Syria in Europe,” he said. While asking for help, he cautioned Ukrainian allies that they would have to share responsibility for the lives lost in Ukraine if they did not act. “If you don’t [help], I’m afraid you will have to share responsibility for the lives and the suffering of Ukrainian civilians, who die because of ruthless Russian pilots who throw bombs on them.”

Stoltenberg, who noted that he understood Ukraine’s desperation for a no-fly zone, said that he was only thinking forward about the consequences it might bring to Ukraine, the rest of Europe, and the entire world. He said that if Russia were to fly their warplanes in a no-fly zone, NATO would have to shoot down Russian planes to impose said policy. “If we did that, we’ll end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe involving many more countries and causing much more human suffering,” he said.

“So that’s the reason why we made this painful decision to impose heavy sanctions, provide significant support — stepping up support — but at the same time not involving NATO forces directly in the conflict in Ukraine.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the West’s decision not to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine to stop Russian fighter jets, bombers, and helicopters from attacking them. He said that it could put the alliance into a direct conflict with Russia, which may lead to a full-fledged war. He reiterated that they were still going to supply weaponry and impose sanctions, but he also admitted that the impact of the sanctions was going to take some time to take effect. “Unfortunately, this is not like flipping a light switch,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his dismay at the decision as it means bombardment off Ukraine and the death of their civilians would continue, saying that NATO is letting Russia bomb Ukraine without any repercussions.

“Today there was a NATO summit, a weak summit, a confused summit, a summit where it was clear that not everyone considers the battle for Europe’s freedom to be the No. 1 goal,” he said. “Knowing that new strikes and casualties are inevitable, NATO deliberately decided not to close the sky over Ukraine,” a frustrated Zelensky remarked.

NATO, seemingly trying to avoid a full-fledged conflict, is still supportive of Ukraine’s war efforts against Russia. During US President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address, he emphasized that the US had given more than $1 billion to defend Ukraine. The White House has asked for another $10 billion to support Ukraine’s defensive war efforts to repel Russian agression.

“Together with our Allies, we’re providing support to the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom: military assistance, economic assistance, humanitarian assistance. We’re giving more than a billion dollars in direct assistance to Ukraine. And we’ll continue to aid the Ukrainian people as they defend their country and help ease their suffering,” said the President.

He also emphasized that US troops will not be engaging and fighting Russian forces in Ukraine during the State of the Union Address. However, he did state that US troops would defend NATO allies in the event that Putin engages NATO countries further in the West.

“And as I’ve made crystal clear, the United States and our Allies will defend every inch of territory that is NATO territory with the full force of our collective power — every single inch.”

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