The Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Jens Stoltenberg, said the alliance must not allow Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine to escalate into a confrontational war between the allied countries and Russia.
Stoltenberg said this in an interview with AFP on Friday at the Antalya diplomacy forum hosted in Turkey.
“We have a responsibility to prevent this conflict from escalating beyond Ukraine’s borders to becoming a full-fledged war between Russia and NATO,” he said.
The NATO chief warned that a ‘no-fly zone’ over Ukraine would “most likely lead to a full war between NATO and Russia”, causing “so much more suffering, so much more death and destruction”.
He further clarified that a ‘no-fly zone’ over Ukrainian space would imply that NATO would have to take out Russian air defence systems not only in Ukraine, but along its borders of Belarus and Russia.
“It will mean that we need to be ready to shoot down Russian planes because a no-fly zone is not only something you declare you have to impose it,” Stoltenberg affirmed.
He, however, expressed piquant worry over president Putin’s “senseless war”, reiterating NATO’s directive urging Moscow to immediately “withdraw all its forces and engage in good faith in diplomatic political efforts to find a political solution”.
He also commended Turkey’s armistice in facilitating peace-talks between the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine in Antalya.
“It is important that allies continue to try to support, facilitate a political solution,” he averred.