What is a no-fly zone and why is it so stuffy?

President Volodymyr Zelensky and others have called on NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine to counter the threat posed by Russian military aircraft. For now, NATO leaders say they are not ready, fearing that such a move could drag them into a broader war with Russia.

A no-fly zone is a ban on aircraft entering a specified area. Such zones are sometimes imposed on government buildings or public places for security reasons, or on sacred sites for religious and cultural reasons. Their use is most controversial especially when they are used in conflicts to prevent military aircraft from engaging in hostilities.

The modern use of no-fly zones dates back to the Persian Gulf War. After the United States and its allies repelled Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991, the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, used armed helicopters to quell insurgencies at home, killing dozens. thousand people.

The coalition against Mr. Hussein in Kuwait does not want to launch a full-scale campaign against him. Instead, the United States, Great Britain and France imposed no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq as a limited step to protect against air attacks by British forces.

Those no-fly zones continued until the 2003 war in Iraq. Critics say the effort lacks legal authorization and that US attacks on Iraq’s air defense infrastructure have also resulted in civilian deaths.

No-fly zones have been introduced elsewhere. NATO, with UN approval, enforced them over Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1993 to 1995 during the Balkan conflict. The coalition did so again in 2011 in Libya, when dictator Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi was trying to quell an uprising.

A no-fly zone could allow nations to take action without requiring large numbers of ground troops, relying instead on a relatively small number of aircraft and supporting infrastructure. But enforcing such restrictions could also involve substantial use of force, including destroying air defenses or shooting down aircraft.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that any country trying to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine would effectively “enter into an armed conflict”, increasing the risk of Russian retaliation. NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, say on friday that its members denied the no-fly zone over fears it could lead to “all-out war in Europe.”

Mr. Zelensky, the leader of Ukraine, was saying that NATO refuses to take such a step gave Russia the “green light” to continue the war.

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