President Biden on Friday said that a direct conflict between NATO and Russia would mean World War III amid growing calls for the US to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which would involve direct fighting with Russia.
In order to impose a no-fly zone, the US and NATO would need to shoot down Russian planes and take out surface-to-air missiles that are inside Russia. Despite the risk of war with Russia, which could quickly turn nuclear, some members of Congress are warming to the idea.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) was one of the first members of Congress to outright call for the US to impose a no-fly zone. Since then, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has warmed to the idea, and Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) has said she’s in favor of the no-fly zone.
This week, Politico published an open letter signed by 27 foreign policy “experts” that urged the Biden administration to impose a “limited” no-fly zone over Ukraine. But since Russian air defense missiles can shoot down planes across Ukraine, the prospect of a “limited” no-fly zone is impossible.
The idea of a no-fly zone is also getting favorable media coverage, with some outlets publishing op-eds arguing endorsing the idea.
One of the no-fly zone’s biggest proponents of the no-fly zone is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who uses every opportunity he gets to call on the West to “close the sky.”
So far, the Biden administration is holding firm on not fighting Russia directly in Ukraine through a no-fly zone or boots on the ground. “We will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine. Direct conflict between NATO and Russia is World War III, something we must strive to prevent,” Biden said.
In an interview with MSNBC on Friday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby explained why the US couldn’t impose a no-fly zone. “It is combat,” he said. “There’s no way you could do that without being willing to shoot and be shot at. It is combat, and I don’t think it’s in anybody’s interest, certainly not Ukraine’s interest, for the United States and Russia to be getting in a war in their airspace.”
While standing firm on the no-fly zone, the Biden administration is still risking provoking Moscow by flooding Ukraine with weapons and sharing intelligence with the Ukrainians as they fight Russia.