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Sensors show no radiation leak from Ukrainian nuclear power plant

NATO meeting in Brussels, March 4. Despite the situation on the ground, NATO does not want to get directly involved in the conflict, in particular by creating a no-fly zone. (Olivier Douliery/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

The 30 member countries of NATO met in Brussels on Friday to discuss the next steps for the alliance in Ukraine. Diplomatic efforts have failed to end the chaos in the country, eight days after Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to invade.

The situation inside Ukraine seems unlikely to improve anytime soon. A 40-mile Russian convoy bound for the capital, Kiev, has been stuck for days as Ukrainian fighters hold key areas, while Russian troops have claimed others key strategic areas and since this morning have occupied the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Despite the grim situation on the ground, NATO is unwilling to get directly involved in the conflict – including the creation of a no-fly zone – beyond supporting Ukraine’s resistance to an invasion that kills innocent civilians.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that a no-fly zone over Ukraine was not an option being considered by the alliance. “We agreed that we should not have NATO aircraft operating over Ukrainian airspace or NATO troops operating on Ukrainian territory,” he said.

What is a no-fly zone? A no-fly zone is an area where certain aircraft cannot fly for a number of reasons. In a conflict like the one in Ukraine, that would probably mean an area where Russian planes weren’t allowed to fly, to prevent them from carrying out air strikes against Ukraine.

NATO has already imposed no-fly zones in non-member countries, including Bosnia and Libya. However, it’s still a controversial move because it means getting half-heartedly involved in a conflict without fully engaging ground forces.

What would happen if NATO imposed a no-fly zone? The problem with military no-fly zones is that they have to be enforced by military power. If a Russian plane flew into a NATO no-fly zone, NATO forces would have to take action against that plane. These measures could include firing the plane from the sky. This would be, in Russia’s eyes, an act of war by NATO and would likely escalate the conflict.

Why didn’t NATO impose a no-fly zone? Neither Ukraine nor Russia are members of NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly sees NATO as a direct threat to his authority and has recently criticized its expansion into Russia, using it as justification for his invasion of Ukraine.

As a result, NATO is extremely reluctant to get directly involved in Ukraine’s conflict with a rival nuclear power. While supporting Ukraine’s resistance and acknowledging Putin’s actions as an invasion of a sovereign nation, the alliance is simply not prepared to do anything that could be construed as an act of direct war against Russia and risk an escalation that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons. weapons.

Why does Russia feel threatened by NATO? Putin has long believed Russia got a bad deal after the breakup of the Soviet Union – what he called “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”.

He complained that NATO has, over time, expanded its borders by admitting Eastern European countries that were once part of the Soviet Union – meaning Russia now shares a border land with the world’s largest military alliance, reducing its geopolitical power in what was once Moscow’s sphere of influence.

As recently as February, he demanded that NATO return to the 1997 borders, before the Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, the latter two of which border Russia, join the alliance.

Read the full analysis here.