Why a No-Fly Zone won’t work
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Canada’s Parliament to, ‘Please close the sky’ during his speech by videoconference from a secret location in Ukraine on Tuesday.
His request for a so-called no-fly zone was not unexpected. He has been delivering speeches to several governments this week with the same demand. “I would like you to understand and I would like you to feel this,” he said. “How many more cruise missiles have to fall on our cities until you make this [no-fly zone] happen?”
Canadians support the idea, according to pollsters, with 65% supporting a no-fly zone. But NATO has said “no.” Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Canada had not changed in its opposition to the tactic. “We need to be sure we’re not triggering an international conflict,” she said.
There are two aspects to this problem:
- First, as mentioned above, it risks a major escalation of the conflict with NATO planes (Canadian jets, potentially) in dog-fights with Russian planes.
- Second, a no-fly zone will not prevent bombardment of Ukrainian cities.
For instance, many strikes are from artillery (cannons on the ground) or by missiles launched outside of Ukraine. This week, a Ukrainian airport was hit by Russian cruise missiles launched from aircraft over the Black Sea, 1000 kilometers away.
To learn more, we recommend this article on Defenseone.com by Peter Singer, “The ‘No-Fly Zone’ Test´ (NFZ). He puts forward 10 hard questions to anyone who proposes a no-fly zone. He asks:
How will your proposal work differently from the failed versions (Iraq, Bosnia, Libya), which didn’t alleviate most of the civilian harm, nor end the fighting, and ultimately led to participation in the ground war itself?PETER SINGER
A second excellent source of insight is our favourite CBC podcast: Front Burner. In this episode, they speak to University of British Columbia’s Allen Sens about the case for and against a “no-fly zone,” whether there’s a red line in this war, and the ways in which it could escalate.