U.S. leaders dismiss creating Ukraine no-fly zone as Rubio warns it would lead to World War III


Foreign affairs leaders are foiling Ukraine’s desire to develop a no-fly zone over the country in the midst of Russian invasion with Senator Marco Rubio claiming the move would lead to World War III.

‘A no-fly zone has become a catchphrase,’ the Florida Republican senator told ABC’s This Week host George Stephanopoulos.

‘I’m not sure a lot of people fully understand what that means,’ he said, adding: ‘It’s not some rule you pass that everybody has to oblige by. It’s the willingness to shoot down the aircrafts of the Russian Federation, which is basically the beginning of World War III.’

He explained that establishing a no-fly zone above Ukraine would mean the U.S. would be agreeing to ‘shoot down and engage Russian airplanes in the sky’ in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.

‘So basically a no fly zone, if people understand what it means, it means World War II. It means starting World War III,’ Rubio said.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who is on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday: ‘If I were President Zelensky, I would be asking for a no-fly zone.’

‘The problem is, there is no such thing as a no-fly zone over Ukraine,’ he added.

The comments come the day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked the U.S. Congress to help him establish a no-fly zone over the former Soviet nation. 

But lawmakers are hesitant the move could spark World War III after Russian President Vladimir Putin said any country that takes action to help Ukraine with a no-fly zone would be considered ‘participants in a military conflict.’

Trump-era ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that she is not in favor of the no-fly zone route, insisting instead that the Biden administration should hit Russia’s energy to give Putin a ‘punch in the gut.’

‘You sound like somebody then that would be in favor of a no-fly zone over Ukraine right now,’ NBC’s Meet the Press host Chuck Todd asked Haley on Sunday.

‘No, I’m not in favor of a no-fly zone right now,’ the Republican former UN ambassador said. ‘What I am in favor of is the Biden administration stepping up and doing the things that will matter.’

A man and child escape Irpin, Ukraine after heavy shelling hits the town and Russian troops advance toward capital city of Kyiv

A man and child escape Irpin, Ukraine after heavy shelling hits the town and Russian troops advance toward capital city of Kyiv

Foreign Affairs leaders and experts in the U.S. are shooting down Ukraine's desire to establish a no-fly zone above their country after NATO and Republican Senator Marco Rubio warned it could lead to World War III. Pictured: First responders at missile strike scene at the Havryshivka Vinnytsia International Airport in Vinnytsia, Ukraine on Sunday

Foreign Affairs leaders and experts in the U.S. are shooting down Ukraine’s desire to establish a no-fly zone above their country after NATO and Republican Senator Marco Rubio warned it could lead to World War III. Pictured: First responders at missile strike scene at the Havryshivka Vinnytsia International Airport in Vinnytsia, Ukraine on Sunday

'If I were President Zelensky, I would be asking for a no-fly zone,' Foreign Affairs member and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said Sunday. 'The problem is, there is no such thing as a no-fly zone over Ukraine'

‘If I were President Zelensky, I would be asking for a no-fly zone,’ Foreign Affairs member and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said Sunday. ‘The problem is, there is no such thing as a no-fly zone over Ukraine’

Zelensky met with US senators on Sunday over Zoom (pictured) and requested the U.S. help Ukraine create a no-fly zone over the former Soviet nation

Zelensky met with US senators on Sunday over Zoom (pictured) and requested the U.S. help Ukraine create a no-fly zone over the former Soviet nation

Russian forces are now attempting to encircle Kyiv and pressing forward in the southeast

Russian forces are now attempting to encircle Kyiv and pressing forward in the southeast 

‘We know that the one thing that punches Putin in the gut is to hit his energy sector,’ she added. ‘There is no reason we should be taking money from an enemy. We should go ahead and sanction all of those energy companies right now. We should remove him from the international banking system. We should be coordinating intelligence in real time with the Ukrainians, we should be leading with NATO, telling them to give the planes to Ukraine. We should be making sure that we’re moving forward on giving them the missiles they need.’

Haley lamented that Ukraine They still doesn’t have what they need and the U.S. should be working to get them the necessary defenses against Russia.

‘They need javelins, they need stingers, they need anti-air and anti-tank missiles to be able to do this,’ she continued. ‘We’ve got to give it to them. We should have done all this before Putin did his first move. We were late to the game. We’re still late to the game. It’s not too late now, but we’ve got to get on the ball.’

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova reiterated on Sunday Zelensky’s urge to get a no-fly zone established.

Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova reiterated Sunday that Ukraine needs the U.S. to 'step up' and help with a no-fly zone

Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova reiterated Sunday that Ukraine needs the U.S. to ‘step up’ and help with a no-fly zone

Fox News’s Shannon Bream asked Markarova how she feels about the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s analysis that a no-fly zone establishment would lead to full-fledged war in Europe. Markarova responded by claiming if Russia attacked Ukraine unprovoked, what other countries can truly feel safe from the wrath of Putin.

‘Well, let’s all remember that Ukraine did nothing to provoke this attack,’ Markarova said. ‘Ukraine was always and is a peaceful country. We never attacked Russia, we’re no threat to Russia unless being a democracy and living peacefully in your own country is a threat.’

‘So if the situation, you know, happened to Ukraine, who is safe? What democracy can feel safe right now?’ she posed.

‘So I think, you know, the events of the past 11 days clearly shows that we have to act together, and that Russia can attack anyone being totally unprovoked like they did with Ukraine,’ Markarova continued. ‘So, it’s time for all of us to step up.’

Zelensky met virtually with the US Congress on Saturday, and once again pressed for a no-fly zone that has been met with widespread bipartisan resistance. He also asked the U.S. to ban imports of Russian oil and transfer fighter jets to Ukraine’s air force.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday she is not in favor of establishing the no-fly zone

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday she is not in favor of establishing the no-fly zone

Retired Admiral James Stavridis told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that the U.S. should ‘give the Ukrainians the ability to create a no-fly zone’, but said the U.S. should not directly assist in its creation ‘yet.’

‘I implemented a no-fly zone. I know how to do this. I did it in Libya in 2011,’ Stavridis said.

‘Can we do it? Sure. Should we? Not yet,’ he weighed in.

The full Senate and House were invited to participate in the Zoom meeting with Zelensky Saturday that lasted roughly an hour, as Putin ‘s forces pushed toward the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and the invasion entered its second week. 

In the meeting, Zelensky again asked for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which NATO has rejected over fears it would trigger World War Three, and asked the US to ban imports of Russian oil and transfer fighter jets to Ukraine’s air force. 

The full Senate and House were invited to participate in the Zoom meeting that lasted roughly an hour, as Vladimir Putin’s forces push toward the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and the invasion enters its second week.

In the meeting, Zelensky repeated his plea for NATO to impose a no-fly zone over his country to blunt Russian air superiority, according to sources familiar with the matter. 

However, the Biden administration and lawmakers from both parties have expressed strong opposition to the idea of a no-fly zone, because enforcing it would require shooting down Russian planes, drawing NATO into direct conflict with Russia.

Putin on Saturday underlined the stakes involved, saying that any country trying to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine will be considered a participant in the conflict.  

In Saturday's meeting, Zelensky also described alleged war crimes unfolding in his country and called for Putin to be designated an international war criminal

In Saturday’s meeting, Zelensky also described alleged war crimes unfolding in his country and called for Putin to be designated an international war criminal

Zelensky is seen meeting with members of Congress in a Zoom call on Saturday

Zelensky is seen meeting with members of Congress in a Zoom call on Saturday

In Saturday’s meeting, Zelensky also asked for tougher sanctions on Russia, including a ban on oil and gas exports, an option the White House is currently weighing.

Cutting off Russian oil would be costly for the US, where it accounts for 7 percent of imports, but not insurmountable. The issue is more delicate in Germany, which is now dependent on Russian energy. 

Zelensky also requested the transfer of Soviet-era fighter jets currently stationed in Eastern Europe to his own air force to use in the fight against Russia, according to sources familiar with the matter.  

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat, said on Twitter after the Zoom meeting that he supported transferring fighter jets to Ukraine from NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

‘Without engaging U.S. pilots in direct conflict with Russians, we can facilitate Ukrainian access to aircraft with which Ukrainian pilots are already trained and which are held in other Eastern European countries,’ he wrote. 

‘I support getting Ukraine access to the fighter jets needed to confront Putin in the skies,’ added Doggett. 

Zelensky also described alleged war crimes unfolding in his country and called for Putin to be designated an international war criminal, according to Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican.  

Zelensky’s meeting with Congress comes as Russian forces press a grinding advance toward key population centers, including Kyiv, were Zelensky and his forces appear ready to make a final stand.

In the key southeastern port city of Mariupol, a limited ceasefire broke down, and Ukrainian officials said that Russia resumed shelling near humanitarian evacuation corridors. 

In a bitter and emotional speech late on Friday, Zelensky lashed out at NATO powers for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over his country, warning that ‘all the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you’. 

NATO has rejected the request, saying that such a move would draw the alliance into a direct conflict with nuclear-armed Russia. 

But Zelensky claimed the West’s hesitancy will fully unleash Russia’s invasion as it escalates its air attack. He called NATO ‘weak’ and ‘confused’ in emotional remarks. 

‘The alliance has given the green light to the bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages,’ Zelensky said, warning that ‘the history of Europe will remember this forever’. 

In a separate video message to anti-war protesters in several European cities, Zelensky said: ‘If we fall, you will fall’.

People cross a bridge intentionally demolished by Ukrainian defenders to slow the Russian advance as they evacuate the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, during heavy shelling Saturday

People cross a bridge intentionally demolished by Ukrainian defenders to slow the Russian advance as they evacuate the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, during heavy shelling Saturday

Police and first responders work at the scene where several houses have been damaged by an explosion, following an air strike in Bila Tserkva, Kyiv Oblast on Saturday

Police and first responders work at the scene where several houses have been damaged by an explosion, following an air strike in Bila Tserkva, Kyiv Oblast on Saturday

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had earlier ruled out the possibility of a no-fly zone, saying Western planes would have to shoot down Russian aircraft. 

‘We are not part of this conflict,’ Stoltenberg said in denying Ukraine’s request.

‘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,’ he said following a NATO meeting in Brussels.

Despite the risk of nuclear war with Russia, a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Friday found that a majority of Americans support a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Some 74 percent of Americans – including solid majorities of Republicans and Democrats – said the United States and its allies in NATO should impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine, the poll found. 

It was not clear if respondents who supported a no-fly zone were fully aware of the risk of conflict it would involve, and majorities opposed the idea of sending American troops to Ukraine or conducting air strikes to support the Ukrainian army. 

A billboard in Kyiv calls on NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian military aggression on Saturday

A billboard in Kyiv calls on NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian military aggression on Saturday

Debris are scattered around the hole in a road at the site where several houses have been damaged by an explosion, following an air strike in Bila Tserkva, Kyiv Oblast, March 5, 2022

Debris are scattered around the hole in a road at the site where several houses have been damaged by an explosion, following an air strike in Bila Tserkva, Kyiv Oblast, March 5, 2022

A Ukrainian soldier was pictured rescuing a tiny baby from a scene of total devastation in Irpin, in a harrowing image that summed up the atrocity of the ongoing war

A Ukrainian soldier was pictured rescuing a tiny baby from a scene of total devastation in Irpin, in a harrowing image that summed up the atrocity of the ongoing war 

The poll, conducted Thursday and Friday, suggests that U.S. outrage is growing over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which in recent days has increasingly involved Russian bombing of urban areas.

It puts pressure on President Joe Biden to take more aggressive actions against Moscow, although he has dismissed the notion of no-fly zones because of the risk of open conflict between NATO and Russian forces.

An equally bipartisan 80 percent of Americans said the United States should stop buying Russian oil, which accounts for about 7 percent of US oil imports. 

The White House on Friday said it was weighing cuts to U.S. imports of Russian oil, though it is proceeding cautiously, concerned about a spike in gasoline prices that would add to high inflation.

Meanwhile, Russia said its forces had stopped firing near two besieged Ukrainian cities on Saturday to allow safe passage to civilians fleeing fighting, but officials in one of the cities said Moscow was not fully observing the limited ceasefire.

The Russian defense ministry said its units had opened humanitarian corridors near the cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha which were encircled by its troops, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered into its 10th day.

But in Mariupol, the city council said Russia was not observing the ceasefire and asked residents to return to shelters and wait for further information on evacuation.

Smoke rise after shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, March 4, 2022

Smoke rise after shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, March 4, 2022

This map shows a planned humanitarian route from Mariupol, through Nikolske, Rozivka, Polohy and Orikhiv, to Zaporizhzhia

This map shows a planned humanitarian route from Mariupol, through Nikolske, Rozivka, Polohy and Orikhiv, to Zaporizhzhia

Russia’s defense ministry accused Ukrainian ‘nationalists’ of preventing civilians from leaving, RIA news agency reported.

The southeastern port has endured heavy bombardment, a sign of its strategic value to Moscow due to its position between Russian-backed separatist-held eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea Crimean peninsula, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.

‘This night the shelling was harder and closer,’ a staff member from Doctors without Borders/Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) said, according to the aid agency, adding there was still no power, water, heating or mobile phone links and food was scarce.

The Ukrainian government said the plan was to evacuate around 200,000 people from Mariupol and 15,000 from Volnovakha, and the Red Cross is the ceasefire’s guarantor.

MILITARY ANALYSTS SAY NATO WILL NOT IMPOSE A NO-FLY ZONE 

Military analysts say there is no chance that the US, Britain and their European allies will impose a no-fly zone because it could easily escalate the war in Ukraine into a nuclear confrontation between NATO and Russia.

WHAT IS A NO-FLY ZONE?

A no-fly zone would bar all unauthorized aircraft from flying over Ukraine. Western nations imposed such restrictions over parts of Iraq for more than a decade following the 1991 Gulf War, during the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1993-95, and during the Libyan civil war in 2011.

WHY WON’T NATO TAKE THIS STEP IN UKRAINE?

In simple terms, because it would risk a direct military conflict with Russia that could escalate into a wider European war with a nuclear-armed superpower.

While the idea may have captured the public imagination, declaring a no-fly zone could force NATO pilots to shoot down Russian aircraft.

But it goes beyond that. In addition to fighter planes, NATO would have to deploy refueling tankers and electronic-surveillance aircraft to support the mission. 

To protect these relatively slow, high-flying planes, NATO would have to destroy surface-to-air missile batteries in Russia and Belarus, again risking a broader conflict.

‘The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighter planes into Ukrainian airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,’ NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said Friday. 

‘We understand the desperation, but we also believe that if we did that, we would end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe.’

‘We have a responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine,’ he said.

WHAT WOULD A NO-FLY ZONE ACHIEVE?

Ukrainian authorities and people cowering night after night in bomb shelters say a no-fly zone would protect civilians – and now nuclear power stations – from Russian air strikes.

But analysts say it’s Russia’s ground forces, not aircraft, that are causing most of the damage in Ukraine.

What Ukrainians actually want is a broader intervention like the one that occurred in Libya in 2011, when NATO forces launched attacks on government positions, said Justin Bronk, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. That’s not likely to happen when the opponent is Russia.

‘They want to see the West kind of sweeping in and taking out the rocket artillery that’s pummeling Ukrainian cities,’ Bronk said. 

‘We’re not going to go to war against the Russian army. They are a massive nuclear-armed power. There is no way that we could possibly model, let alone control, the escalation chain that would come from such an action.’

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE SKIES OVER UKRAINE?

Predictions that Russia would quickly control the skies over Ukraine have not come to fruition.

Military experts are wondering why Russia has chosen to leave most of its fixed-wing combat aircraft on the ground during this massive land offensive. 

One explanation may be that Russian pilots aren’t well trained in supporting large-scale land operations, engagements that require coordination with artillery, helicopters and other assets in a fast-moving environment.

‘I think that maybe they’re a little bit worried that that is a very constrained area. It’s not like the Middle East, where there’s all kinds of space to roam around in the air,’ said Robert Latif, a retired U.S. Air Force major general who now teaches at the University of Notre Dame.

‘They could very easily stray over borders,’ he explained.

‘With both Ukrainian and Russian air defense systems and Ukrainian, what little they have, and Russian airplanes all flying around – that could be a very confusing. I think maybe they’re a little bit worried about actually being able to pull it off.’

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