Russia-Ukraine: Trudeau rejects Zelensky’s request for a no-fly zone

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was forced to reject Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s request to allow a no-fly zone over Ukraine, fearing it could trigger an escalation of Russian forces.

Speaking to CTV National News anchor and editor Lisa LaFlamme, Trudeau confirmed that Zelensky had asked him directly to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine during a phone call Thursday.

Trudeau called the request and the resulting response “heartbreaking”, noting that Zelensky had been asking for the no-fly zone for “many days”.

“It’s something that breaks your heart. To say that we can do so much to support, but the risk of escalation, the risk of spreading… of involving NATO in a direct conflict if we send planes of NATO over Ukraine to shoot down Russian planes,” Trudeau said.

“We can do a lot of things and we are doing everything we can. But we can’t do that.

There have been continuous calls for NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine since Russia invaded the country despite repeated rejection of the idea by Western leaders keen to trigger a wider war in Europe.

A no-fly zone would prevent unauthorized aircraft from flying over Ukraine. Western nations imposed such restrictions on parts of Iraq for more than a decade after the 1991 Gulf War, during the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1993 to 1995, and during the Libyan civil war in 2011.

Declaring a no-fly zone could force NATO pilots to shoot down Russian planes, which NATO leaders say would lead to an all-out escalation in Europe.

Speaking to CTV National News alongside Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada is putting “everything we have into this”, noting that the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by Canada and others forced the ruble to fall.

“The Russian Stock Exchange was closed for the ninth consecutive day. Russian public debt has been downgraded to junk status and rating agencies are warning of an imminent Russian default,” Freeland said.

But the sanctions did not prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from stepping up the attack on Ukraine, where his soldiers went so far as to bomb a maternity hospital.

When asked where the line should be drawn, Trudeau said Putin had already crossed it by invading Ukraine.

“Putin has already crossed the red line. He has already invaded a sovereign country, violated the UN charter, shown absolute disregard for human life and the rule of law… and that is why the world is responding with the best tools we have. could dispose of to save more lives and put an end to this,” he said.

Trudeau wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons when asked, noting that “a lot of us didn’t think he would invade Ukraine either.”

Ukrainian authorities and residents huddled night after night in bomb shelters say a no-fly zone would protect civilians from Russian airstrikes. Some of those who rallied around NATO to intervene have suggested the alliance should sacrifice Ukraine to save Europe – an idea Freeland disagrees with.

“I believe Ukraine is fighting to save Europe,” she said.

“I think they are the moral leaders of the world right now and we all know they are fighting for themselves because they have to right now, but they are also fighting for us. They fight for democracy… It’s a fight between democracy and tyranny.

Asked about Putin’s state of mind, Trudeau said: “Putin has painted himself into a corner.”

“Right now he’s starting to see that he can’t win, the Ukrainians’ determination is too strong,” he said. “The rest of the world’s resolve, the condemnation of 141 UN countries for what it has done means it is in a very bad place of its own making, is its own responsibility and we will continue to ensure let him stop.

With files from The Associated Press

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