'Utterly irresponsible and naive' Nicola Sturgeon savaged over Ukraine no-fly zone comment

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called for Western backing for a no-fly zone for Russian aircraft, hoping to stem Vladimir Putin’s aerial bombardment of the country. But it is a step the West has been unwilling to take, as it would require military enforcement from the likes of NATO and the EU, escalating the conflict.

Ms Sturgeon told ITV on Wednesday “the West has to keep its mind open to every way in which Ukraine can be helped”.

She said: “I understand and I share the concerns about a direct military confrontation between Russia and Nato that a no-fly zone may lead to.

“Nobody wants to see an escalation of that nature.

“But on the other hand, Putin is not acting in any way rationally or defensibly.

“We have a situation right now where perhaps the only thing nuclear weapons are deterring is the ability to properly and directly help Ukraine.”

She added: “All of these things must be considered on a daily basis right now because the world cannot stand by and watch Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty be extinguished.

“That would be morally wrong from Ukraine’s perspective, but the implications of that for the rest of us in terms of the values we hold dear would be severe too.”

But Alister Jack, Conservative MP and Secretary of State for Scotland, described the First Minister’s comments as “utterly irresponsible” and “very naive” for failing to rule out a no-fly zone.

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Speaking in a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss once again pushed away the idea of a NATO-enforced no-fly zone.

She told reporters that “setting up a no-fly zone would lead to a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia”.

She added: “And that is not what we are looking at.

“What we are looking at is making sure that the Ukrainians are able to defend their own country with the best possible selection of anti-tank weapons and anti-air defence systems.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has sent a similar message whenever probed on whether the organisation could implement a no-fly zone.

He said last week that NATO does “understand the desperation, but if we did that, we would end up with something that could lead to a full-fledged war in Europe involving much more countries and much more suffering”.

He continued: “We are not part of this conflict. And we have a responsibility to ensure it does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine.”

A spokesperson for Ms Sturgeon said: “The First Minister is not advocating a no-fly zone and we are very well aware of what our partners have said about that.

“At the same time, the FM has made clear that going forward things have to be potentially on the table as the situation evolves.

“But we are not in any way blind to the risks of escalation which various people have talked about. You possibly heard the US Secretary of State [Antony Blinken] yesterday speaking about this in Washington and he was very clear, as indeed the Prime Minister and others have been, about the risk involved.

“So that’s the position.

“The FM is not calling for or advocating a no-fly zone.”



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