Sen. Mark Kelly says a no-fly zone over Ukraine would engage US, Russia in war

Mar 16, 2022, 9:24 AM | Updated: 10:16 am
The words "close the sky over Ukraine" is displayed as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spea...

The words "close the sky over Ukraine" is displayed as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the U.S. Congress at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2022. Zelenskyy appealed to the U.S. Congress to do more to help Ukraine's fight against Russia, but acknowledged the no-fly zone he has sought to "close the sky" over his country may not happen. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

PHOENIX – Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona said the United States should continue to support Ukraine with resources as it battles an invasion from Russia, but he is not in favor of establishing a no-fly zone over the war-torn eastern European country.

“We would have to suppress the enemy air defenses – that means shooting missiles or dropping other ordnance on those surface-to-air missiles and that means engaging in direct combat actions with the Russian military. That’s what we’re trying to avoid here,” Kelly told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Wednesday.

But if Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops beyond Ukraine into a NATO nation, Kelly said, “That would constitute them going to war against NATO. … [America has] an Article 5 obligation as a member of NATO to defend other NATO countries.

“And I’d recommend to him that he does not do anything like that.”

Kelly later sat in Capitol chambers to watch Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s video appeal to Congress to do more to help as the escalating war closes in on three weeks.

President Joe Biden’s administration has stopped short of providing a no-fly zone or the transfer of military jets from neighboring Poland as the U.S. seeks to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia.

“Here’s what we’ve done,” said Kelly, who flew missions over Iraq in the early 1990s as a Navy fighter pilot. “Supported the Ukrainian military, the Ukrainian government, President Zelenskyy, who’s doing a fantastic job leading a besieged nation.

“We’re providing them the resources that they need to fight back.”

Already the Biden administration has sent Ukraine more than 600 Stinger missiles, 2,600 Javelin anti-armor systems, unmanned aerial system tracking radars; grenade launchers, 200 shotguns, 200 machine guns and nearly 40 million rounds of small arms ammunition, along with helicopters, patrol boats, satellite imagery and body armor, helmets, and other tactical gear, according to a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“Just providing them with more aircraft at this point, I am not convinced that means they’re going to fly more sorties,” Kelly said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Sen. Mark Kelly says a no-fly zone over Ukraine would engage US, Russia in war