Ukraine No-Fly Zone ‘Could Lead to End of Human Civilization’

Canadians calling for a no-fly zone over Ukraine have lost the plot. Unless their real aim is nuclear war.

Recently, former Conservative cabinet minister Chris Alexander, New Brunswick education minister Dominic Cardy and former Chief of the Defense Staff Rick Hillier have raised the idea of creating a “no-fly zone” (NFZ) over Ukraine. "We’re calling on all governments of the world to support creating a no fly zone over Ukraine," declared Michael Shwec, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, at a rally in Montréal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US Congressman Adam Kinzinger have also called for NATO to adopt a NFZ.

A NFZ over Ukraine means war with Russia. It would force the US or NATO to shoot down Russian planes.

A war between Russia and NATO would be horrendous. Both the US and Russia have thousands of nuclear weapons. Highlighting the dangers, Paul Street wrote on Counterpunch that "any elected official calling for a No-Fly Zone over Ukraine should be forced to rescind that call or resign for advocating a policy that could lead to the end of human civilization."

Fortunately, Canada’s defence minister Anita Anand and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki have rejected the idea of an NFZ. "It would essentially mean the US military would be shooting down planes, Russian planes," said Psaki. "That is definitely escalatory, that would potentially put us in a place where we are in a military conflict with Russia. That is not something the president wants to do."

Even when the target is not a nuclear power, Canadian-backed NFZs have created death, destruction and escalation.

After killing thousands of Iraqis in 1991 the US, UK, France and Canada imposed a NFZ over Northern and Southern Iraq. Over the next 12 years US and British warplanes regularly bombed Iraqi military and civilian installations to enforce the NFZs.

On different occasions Canada sent naval vessels and air-to-air refueling aircraft to assist US airstrikes. Canadian air crew on exchange with their US counterparts also helped patrol the NFZs.

After a September 1996 US strike to further destroy Iraq’s "air-defence network” Prime Minister Jean Chretien said the action was “necessary to avert a larger human tragedy in northern Iraq." Five years later Chretien responded to another bombing by stating, "if the Iraqis are breaking the agreement or what is the zone of no-flying, and they don’t respect that, the Americans and the British have the duty to make sure it is respected.”

12-years after enforcing the NFZs the US/UK launched a full-scale invasion of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands were killed.

In March 2011 Washington, Paris, and some other NATO countries convinced the United Nations Security Council to endorse a plan to implement a NFZ over Libya (China, Germany, Russia, Brazil and Turkey abstained on the vote). Begun under the pretext of saving civilians from Muammar Gaddafi’s terror, the real aim was regime change. The UN "no-fly zone" immediately became a license to bomb Libyan tanks, government installations and other targets in coordination with rebel attacks. With a Canadian general leading the mission, NATO also bombed Gaddafi’s compound and the houses of people close to him. The military alliance defined "effective protection" of civilians as per the UN resolution, noted Professor of North African and Middle Eastern history Hugh Roberts, as "requiring the elimination of the threat, which was Gaddafi himself for as long as he was in power (subsequently revised to ‘for as long as he is in Libya’ before finally becoming ‘for as long as he is alive’)." Thousands, probably tens of thousands, died directly or indirectly from that conflict. Libya has yet to recover and the conflict spilled south into the Sahel region of Africa.

While they may sound benign, NFZs have generally elicited violence. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a terrible violation of international law that is likely to have deleterious consequences for years to come. But, escalating the conflict through a no-fly zone will only make it worse. It could lead to a cataclysmic nuclear war.

Yves Engler is the author of several books, including his latest, Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the road to Economic, Social and Environmental Decay.

12 thoughts on “Ukraine No-Fly Zone ‘Could Lead to End of Human Civilization’”

  1. Not only can Russia defend itself from US and NATO aircraft, it’s likely that Russia, under its current military doctrine, would destroy the airfields from which they fly with hypersonic missiles, thus directly attacking NATO countries assets. That would directly lead to Article 5 invocation and full-scale war with Russia.

    And that is the takeaway here. There are people in the US and NATO who actually want a war with Russia regardless of the threat of WWIII. Anyone who advocates a no-fly-zone should be kicked out of government service permanently. But as I always say, “That ain’t gonna happen.”

    1. The Red Army won World War II. The U.S. lost Korea. Then we lost Vietnam. Then Afghanistan.

      I guess the U.S. only “wins” when it destroys a country completely (Libya) without serious resistance.

      1. The Red Army wonWW2 they did without a doubt , but americans/ Brits have been brain washed into thinking they did , i have had many arguments over this and people get very angry when you show them the evidence , i have news papers from 1941/45 and even those contain propaganda , like the heroic retreat from Dunkirk which was anything but.

    2. A no fly zone would make clear who has the superior air force and air defences , is NATO willing to take that risk ? , without air superiority all of NATO is a lame duck.

    1. And what is the point of this comment? The statement that the Russian S systems are the best is based on their technical specs and their history of previous versions being used as well as the tests conducted by Russia prior to deployment. This is the same evidence used for all US systems that are untried because the US only attacks countries without decent air forces.

      I’m not one to grant invincibility to air defense systems for the simple reason that you can overwhelm them if you have enough cruise missiles. And supposedly a few Pantsirs – which are not S systems – were destroyed in Syria by Israel, by who knows what means and what competence on the part of the Syrian operators. Let’s wait and see what the results are if there is a major contest. All I know is that assessments I’ve read by American Air Force personnel have said they appear to be extremely formidable.

      1. “their history of previous versions being used”

        Feel free to cite any instance of the previous version (S-400) ever being used in combat. There may be one, but if so I can’t find it.

        An Armenian S-300 allegedly downed three Azerbaijani drones in 2020. Then the Azerbaijanis claimed that they took out an Armenian S-300 site WITH drones.

        Oh, and a Syrian S-200 accidentally shot down a Russian turboprop in 2018.

  2. We all know the Americans are brain dead , but could they start WW3 just to show how tough they are ?.

    1. Well JJ:

      That’s not very nice, lol. I’m an American with Comanche blood and I am not brain dead. But I can scalp your a– quicker than a firecracker on the 4th of July!

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