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16 Nov, 2022 12:35

No-fly zone over Ukraine not on the table – Germany

The move could spark a direct conflict between Russia and NATO, a government spokesperson said
No-fly zone over Ukraine not on the table – Germany

Germany and its NATO partners have no plans to try and close off Ukrainian airspace in the wake of a deadly missile blast in a village near the Poland-Ukraine border, Berlin said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters, spokesman Wolfgang Buchner noted that such a move could trigger a direct clash between Russia and NATO forces. “Together with all our allies we agreed that we want to avoid a further escalation of this war in Ukraine,” he said.

Christian Thiels, Germany’s defense ministry spokesman, said Berlin had proposed to help Poland to patrol its airspace. According to the official, German Eurofighter jets could be deployed as early as “tomorrow.”

This statement came after Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said he was not ruling out a discussion within NATO about the closure of Ukrainian airspace. Helsinki is not a member of the bloc, but has applied to join.

Speaking at a press conference, Haavisto was asked whether NATO could raise the possibility of shutting Ukraine’s airspace, given that the conflict in the country has resulted in projectiles flying into the territory of neighboring states.

“I’m sure the closure of airspace will be discussed,” he said. Should this happen, Haavisto continued, this would mean that “every plane” which enters such a zone would be shot down.

However, he admitted that it would be incredibly difficult to mount such an operation. “It’s a huge aerial surveillance and a huge military surveillance mission to monitor such a big country as Ukraine. There are huge military challenges,” the minister said, adding that “various options are being considered to protect Ukraine and its civilian population.”

Striking a cautious tone, Haavisto also refrained from assigning blame for the missile blast that killed two people in the Polish village of Przewodow, close to the Ukrainian border. He also commented on reports that the missile was most likely fired from Ukraine and not from Russia. “Of course, amid hostilities, it can always happen that you don’t do something on purpose,” he said.

On Tuesday, local media reported that two farm workers in the village had died. The Polish Foreign Ministry said a “Russian-made missile” was behind the incident. Later, however, Polish President Andrzej Duda claimed that the projectile was probably a Ukrainian air defense missile.

The Russian Defense Ministry has denied involvement, saying Moscow did not conduct any strikes against targets near the Polish-Ukrainian border on that day. On Wednesday, the ministry said Russian military experts had analyzed the photos from the scene and identified the parts of the projectile “as elements of a missile from the S-300 air defense system used by the Air Force of Ukraine.”