Worldview from Franklin County: No fly zone – Could we? Should we?
The war in Ukraine progresses slowly for the Russian forces. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has managed to rally defenders to slow the Russian advance to a crawl. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute is going to award President Zelenskyy the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award.
A vast majority of the world’s leaders have condemned this assault and have given economic support to Ukraine.
Economic sanctions have crippled the Russian currency and are damaging the Russian economy.
Despite these sanctions causing economic hardship in the U.S., Americans are supporting further sanctions against Russia. Oil has topped $130 per barrel, and yet support for a ban on Russian oil has broad support – a ban that could cause oil to top $200 per barrel.
Americans support giving Ukraine the tools of war. The U.S. is replacing Soviet-type machinery in former eastern bloc nations with NATO equipment as these countries transfer Soviet-type equipment to Ukraine. Giving NATO aircraft to Ukraine is unworkable because of training and logistical problems.
Americans want to help. A recent poll found that 74 percent of Americans support a “no fly zone,” 80 percent support a ban on Russian oil, and 81 percent support additional penalties.
With all the wiz-bang technology we see on our TV screens, it is easy to believe we can set up and enforce a no-fly zone from the Pentagon. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Establishing such a zone requires the U.S. to have air dominance in the designated area. A large, physical U.S. presence is needed.
How would that happen?
First, Russian air defenses would have to be eliminated by destroying their equipment. That could be accomplished by U.S./NATO dropping bombs on any and all Russian air defense machinery and personnel.
Then, U.S./NATO air defenses would have to be established, with boots on the ground. Manning sophisticated air defense equipment requires a heavy footprint.
Finally, U.S./NATO aircraft would be deployed to enforce the zone.
Any of these items will be interpreted by Russia as the U.S./NATO entering the war. We need to think long and hard about this type of escalation.
What are the American interests in expanding the war? What are the consequences of allowing Russia to take over Ukraine? We need to ask ourselves, what type of a world do we want? Do we want to allow Putin and all Putin wannabes to pursue their goals unfettered?
History tells us Ukraine will not be the end. A line will have to be drawn at some point.
Is a “no fly zone” in Ukraine the place to draw that line?
These are the questions we must ask ourselves.
Dan Mueller is a guest columnist for the Franklin County Times.