Zelenskyy avoids comments on ‘no-fly’ zone, NATO membership

Irobiko Chimezie

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked NATO allies Thursday for continued help in his fight against Russia’s invasion but did not repeat his recurring request for a “no-fly” zone, according to the White House. Zelenskyy addressed the NATO summit by video from Ukraine, speaking shortly after the emergency summit was opened by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, according to a senior administration official who described the closed-door gathering on condition of anonymity.

The official said Zelenskyy also did not ask for Ukraine to become a member of the alliance. Russia is opposed to Ukraine joining NATO, one of the conditions Moscow set in the failed negotiations before troops invaded Ukraine.

Zelenskyy’s frequents requests for a “no-fly” zone over his country have been dismissed by U.S. and NATO officials who say defending Ukraine skies would risk a wider escalation of the war.

NATO nations agree to strengthen defense forces

NATO leaders agreed Thursday to strengthen its deterrence and defense forces in Europe for the longer-term while increasing support to Ukraine and imposing further costs on Russia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after the alliance’s emergency meeting.

“Transatlantic solidarity remains vital,” Stoltenberg tweeted.

In a group statement released after the meeting, NATO leaders said they condemn Russia’s invasion and called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to immediately stop the war and withdraw forces. The leaders also called on Belarus to end its complicity in the war and for China and other countries to stop supporting Russia’s war effort in any way, and to “refrain from any action that helps Russia circumvent sanctions.” NATO also will enhance cyber capabilities and defenses and “substantially increasing” defense spending overall.