Riga, Mar 3 (EFE).- More anti-aircraft missiles delivered by Western countries to Ukraine would have almost the same effect as a Nato no-fly zone with no risk of a dangerous clash between Nato and Russian air forces, Ben Wallace, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Defense told journalists in the Estonian capital Tallinn Thursday.
Wallace said that a Nato enforced no-fly zone would also apply to the Ukrainian air force and the drones that it has used with effect against Russian armored units on the ground.
He said that Russian aircraft appeared to be operating less during daylight because of the risk of being shot down by Stingers and other man-portable anti-aircraft missiles. Even if a no-fly zone were implemented, it would not prevent the Russians from using ground-based artillery and long-range missiles to continue attacking targets in Ukraine.
Asked to compare a possible no-fly zone over Ukraine with the no-fly zone Nato declared over parts of former Yugoslavia in 1999, Wallace said that in that case, the adversary for Nato were relatively weak forces left over from the disintegrated Yugoslav federal state, while over Ukraine, Nato would be faced with shooting down Russian airplanes to enforce the zone.
He stressed that if any fighter belonging to a Nato country enforcing the zone over Ukraine was attacked by a Russian aircraft, it would trigger Article 5 of the NATO treaty making it an act of war against the entire Alliance.
Estonia’s Defense Minister Kalle Laanet said that NATO as a whole had been late in recognizing how serious a threat Russia under President Vladimir Putin had become in recent years.
He cited threatening aspects of Russia’s Zapad military exercises in 2021 and the “hybrid war” of irregular migrants launched the same against Poland and Estonia by Russia’s now wartime ally Belarus.
However, Laanet said he did not see any immediate military threat to Estonia from Russia
Wallace said that Russia’s cycle of military exercises is deliberately ambiguous, “you don’t know if it could turn into an attack” but there have been no movements of weapons in the Baltic area. He cautioned, however, that “the territorial ambitions in Putin’s recent essay (on Ukraine and foreign affairs) don’t end with Ukraine.”
Wallace said that Russia risks being isolated “for decades” unless Putin ends his aggression against Ukraine.