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NATO says it won't enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine

Antony Blinken, EU, NATO
Posted at 11:05 AM, Mar 04, 2022

BRUSSELS — U.S. Sec. of State Antony Blinken on Friday praised the alliance between the European Union and NATO in standing against Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken said that both blocs are "more than ready to stand up and stand together," adding that "never have NATO and the EU worked so closely together."

On Friday, NATO said it would refuse to police a no-fly zone over Ukraine, noting they believed such a move could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear power Russia.

"We have a responsibility to make sure the war doesn't spill over beyond Ukraine," Blinken said. "The only way to enforce a no-fly zone is to fly planes into Ukrainian airspace and shoot down Russian planes."

Blinken added that while NATO is a "defensive organization," the countries would not hesitate to respond should Russia attack "any inch" of allied territory.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has appealed for the West to enforce a no-fly zone over his country, most recently after a fire overnight at one of Ukraine's nuclear plants. Blinken condemned that "reckless" attack and called on Russia to cease fighting in regions surrounding nuclear plants in an effort to protect civilians.

Russia is ramping up its use of heavy firepower in Ukraine, shelling cities and other sites.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledges the suffering but said Friday that "we are not going to move into Ukraine, neither on the ground, nor in the Ukrainian airspace."

NATO's announcement came the same day that officials in the European Union hinted that the bloc could levy more sanctions against Russia early next week.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said Friday that "we in the European Union and other partners are really disgusted and outraged by what we continue to see day after day in Ukraine and Russia's actions, which clearly are a breach of international law."

Coveney made the comments to reporters before a meeting with his EU counterparts and Blinken.

"I don't think there's any credible argument now that war crimes aren't being committed on a daily basis," Coveney said.

He says the West must brace for no letup in the fighting in Ukraine.

"Unfortunately it looks like we are going to see more of this in the coming days and weeks," Coveney said. "The picture looks very bleak, very dark, in terms of Russia's intentions. And there doesn't seem to be any willingness to discuss a cease-fire, to discuss a pulling back out of residential areas."