[Opinion]: Why the U.S. and NATO Shouldn’t Implement a No Fly Zone



President Biden (right) pictured with Ukrainian President Zelensky. Biden has so far rebuffed Zelensky’s requests for a no-fly zone over his nation.

As Ukraine continues to be bombarded by Russian artillery and shelling, President Zelensky has renewed his requests for the U.S. and NATO to implement a no-fly zone over his nation. However, doing so almost guarantees a wider conflict between Russia and the West, placing millions more lives in the balance.

Implementing a no-fly zone over Ukrainian airspace would be a significant escalation of Western involvement in the conflict. Fears surrounding a broader war have so far kept the West from acting and officials have continued to rebuff Zelensky’s demands.  And they are making the right choice.

Military strategists as well as NATO’s Secretary- General Jen Stoltenberg have warned that a no-fly zone would mean NATO would need to shoot down Russian planes. Stoltenberg explained, “if we did [a no-fly zone], 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.” President Biden expressed similar concerns, saying, “we’re trying to end this war in Ukraine, not start a larger one.”

In addition, a no fly zone isn’t the only – or best – way the West could help. The Biden administration is currently working with Poland to supply Soviet era fighter jets to the Ukrainians, providing valuable resources so that they can protect their own skies. Other options include a ban on Russian oil imports, which Europe is seriously considering and President Biden announced this morning. There are ways to inflict pain on Russia without escalating beyond sanctions that Putin has already likened to an act of war.

Even though the stories and images coming out of Ukraine are horrific – and we rightly feel helpless – implementing a no- fly zone is not the way to help, unless we want American blood on the street as well.