ICDS director: Putin afraid of Ukraine no-fly zone
Provided we will continue to see civilian deaths, children dying, pressure in society will soon reach a point where it will force NATO to do something, head of the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) Indrek Kannik said on "Vikerhommik" on the West's potential intervention in the Ukraine war.
Ukraine's repeated requests for a NATO no-fly zone over the country have been turned down so far. "The feeling that Vladimir Putin is dictating the situation and why the West has said "no" to requests to close the Ukrainian airspace boils down to Russia being a nuclear power with which no one wants a war," Kannik said on the "Vikerhommik" radio show.
But the more threats Putin throws around regarding the no-fly zone, the more evident it becomes that he is afraid, Kannik suggested. "Russian air forces have sustained heavy losses, and I doubt its aircraft would dare violate a U.S. and allied no-fly zone. That said, it is easy for us to say, while the stakes are higher when you are the president of a nuclear power and have to decide whether to risk war with another," the ICDS director said. I would refrain from condemning the Americans here, he added.
"Looking at the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, the pain spot is Russia's ability to fire on cities using artillery and airstrikes. Provided we will continue to see civilian deaths, children dying, pressure in society will soon reach a point where something will need to be done," Kannik said. "This has happened before. In the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts in 1992 and 1999. The West was pressured into dealing with it eventually. I would not rule out intervention in the current conflict either," he added.
EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Josep Borrell said last week that some EU member states are willing to pledge planes. "Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia immediately rushed to deny the information. It was noise. While I have not been able to determine the source of the confusion," Kannik said. Talks between the U.S. and Poland for the latter to donate MiG fighters to Ukraine provided it can get American hardware in return have reached a decisive phase. "We will see how these talks will progress, while [U.S. Secretary of State] Antony Blinken has repeatedly pointed to the process," Kannik said.
Ukraine currently lacks the strength to mount an offensive. Feeling more secure in the air would give them the necessary confidence, Kannik suggested. "We are still in a phase where Ukraine is forced to fight defensive battles, while the latter are exhausting the aggressor, especially if little progress is being made," he added.
Kannik also said that should the war end unfavorably for Russia, there will be desire to blame Putin and saddle him with the blame for the whole thing.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski