Saturday, March 5, 2022

NATO Rejects No-Fly Zone for Ukraine

If Twitter's global commentariat's any measure, practically the entire world's population wants the U.S. military to join the fight in Ukraine. Turns out it's a moral imperative, ironically, since for the last 21 years, the U.S. has been demonized for its nation-building wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to say nothing of the reaction to the assassination of Osama bin Laden among the 2 billion Muslims worldwide. 

The truth is there is no other country that can destroy Russia and liberate Ukraine. No country with the economic, financial, and military might. Every head of state knows this. People get on the wrong side of the American hegemon at their peril. Even China is hedging its bets now after seeing how fast the U.S. and members of the Western led-international community took down Russia's entire financial system.

It's a breathtaking display of U.S. power. We may not be the the international superpower we once were, but for now, there's no one near ready to take our spot. 

At the video, Vladimir Putin warns the Western allies against creating a "no-fly zone" over Ukraine.

And at the Los Angeles Times, "NATO rejects Ukraine’s plea for no-fly zone after Russia seizes nuclear plant, uses cluster bombs":

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian forces pressed their offensive against key Ukrainian cities Friday in a heavy bombing and shelling campaign that has led to a ballooning humanitarian disaster, spurred a growing exodus of people and raised fears of a wider calamity after Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant was set ablaze. A chorus of international condemnation and outrage followed Moscow’s capture of the nuclear complex, amid indications Russian forces would continue to go after such facilities.

And in Ukraine’s south, Russian troops besieged the city of Mykolaiv in an apparent march toward Odessa, Ukraine’s most important city on the Black Sea.

In urgent meetings of U.S. and European leaders at NATO headquarters in Brussels, the alliance’s commander confirmed Russia was attacking Ukrainians with cluster bombs, a munition outlawed by more than 120 countries. But NATO also rejected Ukraine’s pleas to establish a no-fly zone over the battered country.

“Unfortunately, tragically, horrifically, this may not be over soon,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said, emerging grim-faced from the meetings.

Blinken said a no-fly zone would require employing NATO aircraft over Ukraine in potential conflict with Russian fighter jets and lead to “a full-fledged war in Europe.”

The Biden administration, which has joined most of Europe in enacting severe economic sanctions on Russia, said it was examining a ban on Russian oil exports, although support for that is muted because it would raise gas prices in the U.S. and Europe.

Pentagon officials expressed alarm over Russia’s violent takeover of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex in the southeastern city of Enerhodar and said it remains unclear how Moscow plans to use the facility. At a minimum, the Russians could cut off the electricity that the plant supplies to much of Ukraine, a senior official said.

“Using combat power to try to take a nuclear power plant over ... it just underscores the recklessness of this Russian invasion,” the official said, briefing reporters in Washington on condition of anonymity.

Authorities said Friday morning that local firefighters had extinguished the fire at the plant and that there had been no release of radioactive material. Even with Russian forces in control, officials said, the local staff continues to operate the plant and is inspecting it for damage.

None of the site’s six reactors — only one of which was in use, at about 60% capacity — was damaged, said Rafael Mariano Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Geneva. Initial reports Friday had mistakenly indicated there was a fire inside one of the reactors.

But the strike on the plant, which sparked immediate fears of a Chernobyl-like disaster, with radioactive clouds drifting over the rest of Europe, demonstrated anew the war’s potential for terrifying effects far outside Ukraine’s borders. Norway’s leader called the shelling of Zaporizhzhia “in line with madness.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, warned in an emergency session of the Security Council that Russia could make use of any of Ukraine’s other nuclear facilities as pawns in the war.

Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear plant operator, said three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two were injured in the strike.

In an emotional video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed for a stop to the shelling of Zaporizhzhia and for a Western-enforced no-fly zone over the country to forestall any other strikes on sensitive infrastructure. Ukraine is home to four nuclear power plants.

“Only urgent action by Europe can stop the Russian troops,” said Zelensky, who fielded a flurry of worried calls from President Biden and other world leaders. “Do not allow the death of Europe from a catastrophe at a nuclear power station.”

His comments came as Russian troops strengthened their grip on Ukraine’s south in a bid to choke off access to the Black and Azov seas and establish control over a swath of land pushing up against Moldova and NATO member Romania to the west...

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