Why Won’t NATO Deploy Troops to Ukraine or Set Up a No-Fly Zone? Here’s What to Know

March 2, 2022

As Ukraine enters its sixth day of resisting Russia’s invasion, casualties are rising, new destructive weapons are reportedly being used and calls are growing for foreign leaders to send troops to support the Eastern European country.

On Feb. 28, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged President Joe Biden and NATO to impose a no-fly zone – meaning deploying NATO aircrafts to Ukrainian skies to block Russia from using its air force in the country, Axios reported.

“If the West does this, Ukraine will defeat the aggressor with much less blood,” Zelenskyy said.

But the United States and NATO’s stance on sending troops remains unchanged. Both experts and government officials say it is unlikely to happen.

The United States and other European countries that are members of NATO are unlikely to get involved unless Russia launches a direct attack on one of the NATO members, McClatchy News previously reported.

That is the basis of NATO’S Article Five, which states that an armed attack on one of their members in Europe or North America will be considered an attack against them all.

Article Five only applies to NATO members, and Ukraine is not a member of NATO.

While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was unjustified and devastating, “it is still a regional conflict,” retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, a national security and military analyst told CNN.

“If NATO or the US sent troops into Ukraine to help them fight the Russians, the dynamic would shift to a multinational conflict with potential global implications due to the nuclear power status of both US and Russia,” he said. “Because of that, the US and NATO — and other nations around the world — are attempting to influence the success of Ukraine and the defeat of Russia by providing other types of support.”

Potential further aggression by Russia is the reason why the United States and European countries are reinforcing their posture in Europe, but have not yet gotten involved in the conflict, Stanley Sloan, an expert in transatlantic relations at Middlebury College and a former international security officer, told McClatchy News.

The Biden administration has been trying to defuse tensions with Russia after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he put his nuclear forces in a “special regime of combat duty” on Feb. 27, McClatchy News previously reported.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told MSNBC on Feb. 28 that the U.S. has its “own preparations” and “own ability and capacity to defend the United States,” but the country has not changed its alert levels. Psaki said the Biden administration wants to “reduce the rhetoric and deescalate” the situation.

While President Biden quickly condemned Putin’s attack and imposed sanctions on Russia, he has continually assured he is not going to send U.S. troops into that conflict.

In a Feb. 28 press briefing, Psaki said the president still had no intention “to send U.S. troops to fight a war with Russia.”

She added that a no-fly zone would be a step toward sending troops “because a no-fly zone would require implementation. It would require deploying U.S. military to enforce, which would be a direct conflict — potentially a direct conflict and potentially war with Russia, which is something we are not planning to be a part of.”

In a March 1 phone call with Zelenskyy, Biden emphasized the “United States’ continued backing for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression,” according to a White House statement.

While there was no mention of potential U.S. involvement, Biden discussed how allied leaders are working to “hold Russia accountable” — including by imposing sanctions hampering the Russian economy.

Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine on three fronts early Thursday, Feb. 24, bombarding cities, towns and villages as forces advanced toward the capital of Kyiv.

As of 7:30 a.m. ET on March 1, at least 352 Ukrainian citizens have been killed, Ukraine’s interior ministry said, according to McClatchy News, but U.N. officials believe the totals are “considerably higher.”

“We are not putting down arms,” Zelenskyy said Saturday, Feb. 26. “We will be defending our country, because our weapon is truth, and our truth is that this is our land, our country, our children, and we will defend all of this.”

Ukrainian forces are putting up a “very determined resistance,” particularly in Kyiv, which is under heavy Russian attack by artillery and cruise missiles, Reuters reported.

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