'A no-fly zone is not on the table right now - US representative to NATO

Ambassador Julianne Smith said that a no-fly zone would be counter-productive to the peace attempts.

 A model airplane is displayed on EU and Russian flags with words "Airspace closed" in this illustration taken, February 27, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)
A model airplane is displayed on EU and Russian flags with words "Airspace closed" in this illustration taken, February 27, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)

WASHINGTON – The message coming from the NATO alliance and from Washington, including the president, is that a no-fly zone is not on the table right now, according to Ambassador Julianne Smith, US permanent representative to NATO.

“That’s not something that the alliance is looking at,” she said on Tuesday at a media briefing.

The collective goal of the United States and its allies “is to end this war, to get Russia to leave Ukraine, to get Russia to stop these attacks on both the Ukrainian military and these indiscriminate attacks on civilians,” Smith said. “We don’t want to expand this conflict. We do not want to see it spread above and beyond the current context. And so the feeling is that if we were to consider something like a no-fly zone, that would take us in the wrong direction.”

There is also a broader question about the utility of considering this type of option, she said, noting that Russia recently attacked a military training facility in western Ukraine, about 15 km. (nine miles) from the Polish border.

“What we learned from that was that Russia actually was able to instigate that attack from a Russian bomber in Russian airspace, begging the question about whether a no-fly zone in Ukrainian airspace would actually have a major impact on Russia’s ability to attack Ukrainian territory.”

 A man holds a sign during a protest in support of Ukraine after Russia's invasion, in Brussels, Belgium, March 13, 2022. (credit: JOHANNA GERON/REUTERS) A man holds a sign during a protest in support of Ukraine after Russia's invasion, in Brussels, Belgium, March 13, 2022. (credit: JOHANNA GERON/REUTERS)

On the US position against the transfer of MiG aircraft from Poland to Ukraine, Smith said that Poland received requests through their contacts in Kyiv. 

“They heard loud and clear the requests for these Soviet-era MiGs that they have in Poland,” she said. “We had a debate about that particular option. At the end of the day, you heard the US weigh in and say that they felt that this particular option was untenable.

“There were a number of open-ended questions about the mechanics of actually moving these planes from Poland to Ukraine. There are open-ended questions about pilots, about fuel, about missiles. And so at this point, this is ultimately Poland’s decision. But to the extent that the US has a view on this, the Pentagon did not believe that at this point this was the best option, and this was an option that had all of the details adequately sorted to actually make this transfer happen.”