Ukraine lawmakers call on NATO to impose no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying the bloc is reaping the consequences of ignoring Putin's threats for years

Business Insider
Business Insider
Police officers inspect the remains of a missile that fell in the street in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 24, 2022.
  • Russia attacked Ukraine early Thursday, with explosions heard across the country.
  • Two Ukrainian MPs told Insider that NATO must enforce a no-fly zone over their country.
  • One said NATO underestimated Putin for years and that Ukraine is now paying for it.

NATO must announce a military no-fly zone over Ukraine in response to Russia's invasion , two Ukrainian members of Parliament told Insider on Thursday, saying the bloc was now seeing the consequences of ignoring President Vladimir Putin's threats for years.

Western powers sanctioned Russian entities earlier this week after Putin ordered troops to enter two pro-Kremlin regions of Ukraine .

Putin ordered a "special military operation" into Ukraine — effectively an invasion — early Thursday, and cities across Ukraine were subsequently hit by shelling .

'Will ... the West show their inability to oppose one of the greatest dictators?'

Speaking to Insider by phone from Kyiv on Thursday, Kira Rudik, the leader of Ukraine's Holos political party, and Ivanaa Klympush of the European Solidarity party said Western sanctions had not worked and called for a no-fly zone.

If NATO imposed a no-fly zone over Ukraine, it would effectively mean that the bloc's members, including the US and UK, would be authorized to shoot down any Russian aircraft that enter Ukrainian airspace. Both the US and UK have sent military aid to Ukraine but have so far declined to send troops into the country.

Klympush told Insider it was time to "immediately" discuss imposing a no-fly zone.

"It's about actually sending more military capabilities to Ukraine through any land corridor, and preparing to send troops to Ukraine at some point," she said. "All of those things have been done in other parts of the world and they saved lives."

Rudik agreed, saying: "He [Putin] invaded and there are sanctions. So now what? Now the question is, are we going to receive military help, a no-fly zone over Ukraine, or will we not receive it and NATO and the West will show their inability to oppose one of the greatest dictators?"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also appeared to call for a no-fly zone in Thursday tweet , saying: Close the airspace! The world must force [Russia] into peace."

Ukraine also closed its airspace to commercial flights earlier on Thursday.
Map of commercial airspace over Ukraine around 10:50 a.m. local time on February 24, 2022.

'We are expecting NATO to step up'

NATO previously imposed no-fly zones over Libya and Syria during active conflict in those countries. In Libya's case, NATO permitted fighter planes to "intercept any aircraft which violates the no-fly zone, and engage it if it presents a threat."

"We are expecting NATO to step up," Rudik said.

In a statement released Thursday, NATO said it was taking "additional steps to further strengthen deterrence and defense."

"We are deploying additional defensive land and air forces to the eastern part of the Alliance, as well as additional maritime assets," it said, without giving specifics.

Putin said on Thursday that the West will face "consequences greater than any you have faced in history" if they intervened in Ukraine, and boasted about Russia's nuclear arsenal.

Klympus sent a video she had taken on Thursday morning, which showed backed-up traffic heading out of Kyiv as the invasion was underway.

'We have not been heard'

Klympush went on to say that NATO had long failed to understand Putin's ambitions for Ukraine. "We have been ringing the alarm bells for eight years, we have not been heard," she said.

"He didn't need just Crimea, just parts of Ukraine, he needs to impose his will on the international geopolitical order. He has gone mad."

Russia's conflict with Ukraine has been rumbling for years but escalated dramatically in recent weeks, with Russia assembling vast numbers of troops on Ukraine's border in the largest military operation in the region since World War II.

On Monday, Putin recognized the independence of Luhansk and Donetsk , and ordered troops there for what he described as a limited peacekeeping operation in the country's east. Less than 72 hours later, he authorized a full-scale attack on Ukraine .

Putin has long said that the peoples of Ukraine and Russia are deeply connected, and published a rambling essay with imperialist undertones on the topic last year.

Speaking to Insider, Klympush also called on Western powers to target Russia with new sanctions on its financial system.

"Its important to go even further, blocking SWIFT, Visa, Mastercard, and banking platforms for the Russian Federation," she said. SWIFT is a global network for international financial transactions used by nations, banks, and individuals.

Speaking to Insider in a separate interview on Wednesday , Rudik said the West needs to sanction "not only his [Putin's] closest circle and the Duma, but the members of their families."

"Let them come to Putin and say, 'What the hell,'" she said.

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