Twitter and the internet are aflame with demands for a no-fly zone in Ukrainian airspace. The notion, suggested by outraged MPs and some journalists, is that NATO should order Russia not to fly over Ukraine.
As others have pointed out, it is a very, very bad idea. Introducing a no-fly zone would lead to escalation with a fruitloop fantasist tyrant who thinks he’s waging holy war. And he has nuclear weapons.
I’ll keep this piece very brief because the point really doesn’t need embellishing or labouring. Even in a complex, confused situation such as this, some things are quite straightforward.
Ordering a no-fly zone would amount to a declaration of war against Moscow by NATO members and, presumably, all of the EU. This is not a good policy, when Putin has indicated he’s prepared to consider going nuclear.
Think it through. How would the no-fly order be enforced? If NATO imposed such a ban that would mean it engaging any Russian fighters or bombers in breach and trying to shoot them down. The Russians would then think themselves justified in attacking NATO bases and other assets in NATO countries. Within hours it would be a Europe-wide war.
The demands are on one level understandable, although in some cases they come from those who have paid little attention to defence and having rediscovered it think it is a simple matter of doing something dramatic sounding when something must be done.
Of course this is painful, beyond grim. The appalling destruction in Ukraine by Putin is getting worse by the day. The Ukrainians are heroes. Maximum international pressure is being brought. Witness the destruction of the Russian financial system in recent days by Western central banks. Even then that doesn’t feel like enough. It’s natural to want to help even more militarily.
But the dangers of nuclear war by mistake are high. There needs to be some path found eventually to de-escalation.