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'A Whole New Level': No-Fly Zone In Ukraine Is Not Something The U.S. Says It's Prepared To Do

By Zoriana Stepanenko March 04, 2022

Despite a new plea from Kyiv, Washington is not prepared to support a no-fly zone over Ukraine as it would escalate the conflict with Russia "to a whole new level," U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price says.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called for a no-fly zone several times since Moscow's unprovoked invasion started on February 24 and reiterated the plea on March 4 after Russia shelled Europe's largest nuclear plant.

But Price told RFE/RL in an interview from Brussels that while the West is doing what it can to help Ukraine defend itself, "putting NATO's forces in potential contact or conflict with Russia would take this conflict to a whole new level."

"That is not something the United States is prepared to do," he said.

Price's comments via video from Brussels came as foreign ministers from members of NATO -- which Ukraine is not a part of -- met to discuss what he called Russia's "unjustified, unprovoked, premeditated invasion."

The meeting in the Belgian capital took on more urgency after blasts lit up the night sky around Europe's largest nuclear power plant in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhya, while Russian troops advanced in southern Ukraine and bombarded several cities elsewhere.

Price said the fact that Russian artillery hit the nuclear site is "something that is of deep concern, and it speaks to the fact that this conflict needs to come to an end."

"The Russians need to de-escalate the risk to civilian populations beyond what has already transpired. It's something that carries grave, grave consequences," he said.

Price said that the United States and its allies will also continue to ratchet up sanctions against Moscow for its aggressive actions, warning that "if [Russian President Vladimir] Putin continues to escalate, we also will escalate our response."

He added that the West must keep the diplomatic path "open and alive" even though diplomacy is "unlikely to succeed under these coercive conditions when Russia continues to fire missiles, to launch bombs, as its forces continue to advance inside Ukraine, as its forces continue to pour over from within Russian territory into Ukraine."

"What we need to see is de-escalation -- that is, a cessation of these hostilities. Russian forces pulling back. We need to see that if this diplomacy is to have promise," Price said.

With additional reporting by Current Time and RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/united-states- no-fly-zone-ukraine/31736129.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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