Defense

Kirby: No-fly zone would not have prevented military base strike near Polish border

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Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said on Sunday that a no-fly zone would not have prevented Russian forces from striking a Ukrainian military base where foreign fighters have trained that stands less than 20 miles from the Polish border.

The International Peacekeeping and Security Center near the western city of Lviv was attacked by more than 30 Russian rockets on Sunday, according to Ukrainian forces.

The Biden administration has opposed setting up a no-fly zone in Ukraine, arguing it would put the U.S. in direct military conflict since pilots from NATO and the U.S. would be charged with enforcing the zone by shooting Russian planes out of the sky.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and the White House has opposed using U.S. military on the ground or in the air over Ukraine, a position that has bipartisan support.

Kirby told ABC’s “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz that he didn’t think the no-fly zone would have stopped the attack on the base near Lviv.

“No, I don’t think so, Martha. Look, I mean, no-fly zone has a nice air policing kind of sound to it, but I participated in one as a young officer on an aircraft carrier way back in the early 90s. It is combat. You have to be willing to shoot and to be shot at. President Biden has made it clear that US troops are not going to be fighting in Ukraine.”

Ukrainian officials have continued to call for a no-fly zone to be enacted over their country.

Noting the attack’s close proximity to the Polish border, Raddatz asked Kirby what would happen if Poland, a member of NATO, was attacked by Russian forces. If Poland is attacked, Article Five of the NATO treaty states that fellow member countries must consider it an attack on all of them.

“We take our Article Five commitment very seriously, and the vice president was was pretty firm about that on a recent visit. So has been Secretary Austin,” Kirby said. “An armed attack against one is considered an armed attack against all. That is why, Martha, we continue to flow and to move and to reposition forces and capabilities along NATO’s eastern flank to make sure that we can defend every inch of NATO territory if we need to.”

Tags Joe Biden John Kirby John Kirby NATO No-fly zone Pentagon Reactions to the 2021–2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis Russian irredentism

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