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

President Volodymyr Zelensky and others have called on NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine to counter the threat from Russian mili...


President Volodymyr Zelensky and others have called on NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine to counter the threat from Russian military aircraft. For now, NATO leaders have said they are unwilling, fearing such a move could drag them into a wider war with Russia.

A no-fly zone is an order to prohibit aircraft from 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 most controversial use is when used in conflict to prevent military aircraft from engaging in hostile action.

The modern use of no-fly zones stems from the Persian Gulf War. After the United States and its allies repelled Iraq’s 1991 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein used helicopter gunships to quell uprisings at home, killing dozens of thousands of people.

The coalition allied against Mr. Hussein in Kuwait was unwilling to wage a full-scale campaign against him. Instead, the United States, Britain and France imposed no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq as a limited measure to protect against air attacks by its forces.

These no-fly zones continued until the 2003 war in Iraq. Critics said the effort lacked legal authorization and that US attacks on Iraqi air defense infrastructure also killed civilians.

No-fly zones have been imposed elsewhere. NATO, with the approval of the United Nations, imposed them on Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1993 to 1995 during the Balkan conflict. The alliance did it again in 2011 in Libya, when dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was trying to crush a rebellion.

No-fly zones can allow countries to operate without committing large numbers of ground troops, relying instead on a relatively small number of aircraft and supporting infrastructure. But enforcing such restrictions may also involve a significant use of force, including the destruction of air defenses or the shooting down of planes.

Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has warned that any nation that tries to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine “would actually be participating in the armed conflict”, prompting the threat of Russian retaliation. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said friday that its members had rejected a no-fly zone for fear that it would lead to “a full-fledged war in Europe”.

Mr. Zelensky, the Ukrainian leader, has says that NATO’s refusal to take such a step gave Russia a “green light” to continue the war.

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Newsrust - US Top News: What is a no-fly zone and why is it so controversial?
What is a no-fly zone and why is it so controversial?
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