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Few Minutes Series- IR(11th March)

By March 11, 2022May 22nd, 2023GS 2, International Relations, Optionals, PSIR


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International Relations

No Fly Zone?

What is a No Fly Zone?

  • In simple terms, a No-Fly Zone refers to a particular airspace wherein aircrafts, excluding those permitted by an enforcement agency, are barred from flying.
  • United Nations Charter dealing with ‘Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression’ are invoked to authorize a potential no-fly zone.
  • Article 39 dictates the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to determine the probable existence of any threat to peace or an act of aggression.
  • In Non-combat situations, No fly zones can be imposed permanently and temporarily over sensitive installations or for high profile events like Olympics.

Have They Been Implemented Before?

  • No fly zones have been implemented without UN mandate too. 
  • In 1991 after the first Gulf War, U.S. and its coalition partners imposed Two no fly zones over Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussain from attacking ethnic groups. 
  • This was also imposed during the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1993-95. 
  • The UNSC had banned all flights in the Libyan airspace post adoption of Resolution 1973 in 2011 in response to the Libyan Civil War.
  • During the Libyan Civil war in 2011, the member states could bar any entity from flying.
  • If they found reasonable grounds to believe the aircraft is ferrying lethal or non-lethal military equipment.

Zelensky Demanding a No Fly Zone

  • Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has renewed calls for NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr is asking the people of Western Europe to demand that their leaders change course.
  • Immediate closure of the skies over Ukraine is needed,” he said.
  • However, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that the organisation would not designate the Ukranian airspace as a ‘No Fly Zone’.
  • Experts warn that declaring a No Fly Zone would lead to a full-fledged war in Europe.
  • Thereby this will involve many more countries resulting in greater human suffering


  • The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, built between 1984 and 1995, is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe 
  • It has six reactors, each generating 950MW, and a total output of 5,700MW, enough energy for roughly 4m homes.
  • In normal times it produces 1/5th  of Ukraine’s electricity and almost half the energy generated by the country’s nuclear power facilities.

What Would a No-fly zone achieve?

  • Ukrainian authorities and people cowering night after night in bomb shelters say a no-fly zone would protect civilians — and now nuclear power stations.
  • What Ukrainians actually want is a broader intervention like the one that occurred in Libya in 2011.
  • In 2011, NATO forces launched attacks on government positions.
  • Ukrainians want to see the West kind of sweeping in and taking out the rocket artillery that’s pummeling Ukrainian cities.

What is the feasibility of ‘No fly zone’ over Ukraine?

  • No-fly zone declarations are essentially a compromise in situations demanding a response to ongoing violence.
  • Imposing a No Fly Zone would mean NATO deploying aircraft and assets which would result in a direct confrontation with Russia.
  • This may require NATO shooting down Russian fighters or taking down its air Defence systems. 
  • Indeed Russia has an overall superiority over Ukraine air space.
  • But it has not demonstrated that so far in its offensive in Ukraine.

Way Forward

  • NATO would continue to provide significant support to Ukraine and impose heavy sanctions.
  • Imposing No Fly would involve NATO to send fighter planes into the Ukranian airspace first.
  • Military Experts suggest not to involve NATO forces directly or indirectly in the Ukranian conflict, neither on ground or in space.
  • No fly zone’ would achieve very little.
  • Majority of the Russian attacks on Ukraine are coming from ground attacks rather than air strikes.
  • This was also reiterated by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week during a visit to Poland.
  • No Country wants to Engage in direct combat with Russia!