► What is a “no-fly zone”?
The no-fly zone is a measure aimed at preventing any aerial flight over a defined area. It can be used in peacetime for security reasons, such as around government buildings or military bases, or for cultural or religious reasons above sacred places. During armed conflicts, this provision can be put in place to avoid bombardments and protect civilian populations.
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In time of war, the no-fly zone is authorized by article 42 of the United Nations charter which indicates that if the sanctions aimed at the country author of a military aggression are not sufficient, “the Security Council (…) may undertake, by means of air, naval or land forces, any action it deems necessary for the maintenance or restoration of international peace and security. This action may include demonstrations, blockade measures and other operations carried out by air, naval or ground forces of members of the United Nations. »
► What consequences can a “no-fly zone” have in Ukraine?
The establishment of a “no-fly zone” means that each aircraft flying over the targeted territory must be authorized by the institution at the origin of the exclusion. If the aircraft does not comply with the rule, then it can be shot down.
As Muriel Domenach, France’s ambassador to NATO, points out in a tweet, this is a “offensive measure” and not defensive. If NATO were to implement such a rule, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been asking for several days, the organization would have to deploy fighter jets to monitor the airspace above Ukraine. without interruption.
I’ve received a lot of messages about this 🧵 Contrary to what we intuitively think, a “no fly zone” is an offensive measure. Not defensive. Enforcing it means aligning allied planes against Russian means in the Ukrainian sky https://t.co/OiXoxbwozS
— Muriel Domenach (@MurielDomenach) March 4, 2022
But NATO refuses to get directly involved in the war in Ukraine. “The Allies have agreed that we should not have NATO planes operating in Ukrainian airspace or NATO troops on the ground, because we could end up with an all-out war in Europe”, said Jens Stoltenberg, its general secretary. The Norwegian recalled that the responsibility of Westerners was to“prevent the escalation of this war beyond Ukraine because that would be even more dangerous, more devastating, and cause even more human suffering”.
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On Saturday March 5, Vladimir Putin declared that Russia would see the creation of a no-fly zone “as a participation in the armed conflict” and that the countries involved would be considered as “co-belligerents”.
► Have there been precedents?
The no-fly zone has already been used several times during armed conflicts. First in Iraq, it was applied jointly from 1991 to 2003 by France (which withdrew from the process in 1996), the United States and the United Kingdom in order to protect the population of the north and south of the country against Saddam Hussein’s air raids. During the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, NATO decided to introduce this measure in the country’s airspace. It will last two years, from April 1993 to December 1995.
More recently, in Libya, the UN Security Council authorized in March 2011 the creation of a “no-fly zone” above the country in order to protect the civilian population against the bombings decided by the head of Muammar Gaddafi state. NATO is responsible for ensuring compliance with the measure, which ended in October 2011.