On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced the United States would restrict all Russian flights from entering its airspace.
“Tonight I am announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American airspace to all Russian flights, further isolating Russia and adding the additional squeeze on their economy,” Biden said.
The U.S. move follows similar actions taken by Canada and several European countries. After those restrictions were imposed, the Wall Street Journal reported Russia’s largest airline service, Aeroflot – Russian Airlines PJSC, halted all of its flights throughout Europe. The closure of Canada’s airspace also led the Russian airliner to suspend flights along all trans-Atlantic routes, including to the U.S., Mexico and Cuba.
Restricted Russia’s access to U.S. airspace wasn’t the only major airspace decision Biden made this week. Biden also ruled out the possibility of the U.S. enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which could be used to prevent Russian warplanes from flying over Ukraine and carrying out strikes, but which would signify direct U.S. involvement in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and open it up to outright war with Russia.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a press briefing on Monday that a no-fly zone over Ukraine would require the U.S. to implement troops, which it’s unwilling to do.
“The President has been very clear that he is not intending to send U.S. troops to fight a war with Russia. And I think what’s important to note here is that is essentially what this would be a step toward, because a no-fly zone would require implementation,” Psaki said.
“It would require deploying U.S. military to enforce, which would be a direct conflict — potentially a direct conflict and potentially war with Russia, which is something we are not planning to be a part of,” Psaki added.
A senior defense official also told Fox News on Tuesday that Biden ruled out a no-fly zone over Ukraine and has “no argument” to establish one.
Analysts including Mark Cancian, a senior adviser for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, called a no-fly zone over Ukraine a “terrible idea” and characterized it as “an act of war,” Washington Examiner reported.
Rachel Rizzo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center, said on Friday, “An NFZ can’t just be established, it must be enforced. It means NATO allies would have to commit to shooting down Russian planes. This isn’t going to happen; it would mean immediate and severe escalation.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been calling on the U.S. and NATO to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which would allow the Ukrainian forces to defeat Russia “with much less blood.”
Aside from a no-fly zone, Zelenskyy has asked NATO to send troops into Ukraine.
“I’ve already addressed and (spoken) to some Western leaders with this request, because I do believe that leaders do have to support democratic countries and they have to help them,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday. “When we talk about no-fly (zones), we’re looking back into history … and that doesn’t mean that we need to draw another country into the war. And, frankly, you know, everyone is drawn into the war now.”
Zelenskyy said he has spoken to Biden several times, with requests for U.S. support.
“I’ve told them many times that Ukraine will resist and fight stronger than anyone else but on our own against Russia we won’t manage it,” Zelenskyy said. “That’s why if somebody wants to help us, everybody has to act swiftly. This is the moment.”