A Ukrainian MP has criticised NATO as “extremely irresponsible” for not imposing a no-fly zone over her besieged country.
Leaders of the military alliance have consistently ruled out a no-fly zone on the grounds it could lead to a Third World War. Earlier this week Boris Johnson told a Ukrainian woman in Poland that a no-fly would mean Britain, “shooting down Russian planes and would be engaged in direct combat with Russia. That is not something we can do, or we have envisaged. I think the consequences of that would be very difficult to control.”
However, opposition MP Lesia Vasylenko said that by not doing so, they were letting down their own nations as well.
“I think the NATO country leaders are extremely irresponsible towards their own people actually,” she told On The Record with Gavan Reilly.
“What they are thinking of is a very remote risk. First of all, Russia has no resources to attack NATO.
“Second of all, Russia has no interest in attacking NATO countries because Russia is concentrating all their attention and all their efforts on Ukraine and on killing Ukrainians and on erasing Ukraine off of the face of the earth.”
Ukraine remains under martial law with many of the legislature’s powers curtailed. Despite this, Ms Vasylenko said she and her fellow MPs were carrying out vital work:
“Every single Ukrainian has a role in the country at this point in time,” she explained.
“We MPs, we are just Ukrainians at the end of the day and first and foremost. Like all Ukrainains, we are doing something.
#Ukraine Parliament sits in person today to vote essential defence and security laws.A quick and tense session.We sing the national anthem in unity as we begin our session in the most targeted building in all of Ukraine. #LoveUkraine pic.twitter.com/x8reYoeJeb
— Lesia Vasylenko (@lesiavasylenko) March 3, 2022
“Some of us used to be [in the] military and they went back to their regiments and to their battalions and they are fighting on the ground with Ukrainians soldiers.
“Some of us have training in the medical sphere, so we are helping out the hospitals.
“Some of us are with our constituencies working in the humanitarian field and gathering humanitarian aid and sending it where it is most needed.
“I am organising partly humanitarian efforts, partly evacuations from Kyiv and most of the time I work the international scene if you want to call it that.
“I’m online 24/7 talking to my colleagues, fellow parliamentarians from across the globe, from Canada, from Portugal, from Britain, from Czechia… you name it.
“And the reason I do that is because I plea and I appeal to have a no-fly zone over Ukraine to save Ukraine and to save the 44 million Ukrainians who are trapped here under Russian missiles and Russian bombs.”
— Lesia Vasylenko (@lesiavasylenko) March 5, 2022
Earlier in the week, the leader of Northern Ireland’s Alliance Party, Naomi Long, gave her backing to the idea:
“It's important that we take as many measures as we can,” she said.
"I mean at the end of the day a no-fly zone is not an aggressive act, but breaching it is.
"And so I think it is important that, you know, short of actual intervention, I think that we use every possible tool in the toolbox.”
However, the idea was dismissed by Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie, a former soldier who was awarded a Military Cross for bravery, as easier said than done:
“I think instinctively many would say they support no fly zones,” Mr Beattie tweeted.
“But practicalities matter.
“To enforce a no fly zone you need safe air space, to create safe air space you need to get rid of enemy SAM (surface-to-air missile) systems and that requires offensive action.”
Main image: London, UK. 3rd March 2022. A protester holds a placard calling for a NATO no-fly zone. Demonstrators gathered in Trafalgar Square for the ninth day of protests as Russia continues its attack on Ukraine. Credit: Vuk Valcic/Alamy Live News