Right-wing and mainstream cable news featured comments from hosts and guests pushing the idea of a NATO-imposed “no-fly zone” over Ukraine, sometimes without providing of important context on the possibility of an escalation in a hot war with Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on NATO member states to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, in which NATO forces would fire on Russian aircraft conducting operations. Zelensky argues that a no-fly zone would help his army rebalance itself against the impending Russian offensive and relieve civilians beset by the Russian bombing campaign, but security experts believe it would likely escalate the conflict and could bring the world on the brink of nuclear war. Writing for Responsible Statecraft, Anatol Lieven and William Hartung, senior researchers at the Quincy Institute, argued that implementing a no-fly zone could be “one of the most disastrous foreign policy ploys ever undertaken by United States“. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said a no-fly zone would lead to “full-fledged war”. Spokesperson for the State Department and the defense departmentas well as President Joe Biden, have all acknowledged that the United States is unlikely to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine given the dangerous threat of escalation between two nuclear armies.
Echoing Ukrainian pleas for help, right-wing and mainstream news channels have argued for direct US military involvement in Ukraine. CNN anchor Jake Tapper told Secretary of State Anthony Blinken why the United States had yet to save Ukraine from the “massacre” inflicted by the Russian military, while Fox News hosts , Jesse Watters and Sean Hannity, have openly argued for cyber and/or kinetic attacks against Russian assets. This readiness to go to war with Russia appears to ignore the potentially devastating consequences of the US initiating this escalation, which could include nuclear fallout.
Mainstream and right-wing media have created a confusing message that a no-fly zone is a compromise rather than a path to war. Polls show Americans now support a no-fly zone, while believing the United States should avoid sending troops to Ukraine to help relief efforts or directly fight Russian forces. A no-fly zone would require American airmen to patrol the skies over Ukraine, attacking Russian aircraft and ground targets threatening that airspace. Here are examples of right-wing and mainstream media pushing for a no-fly zone, often without adequate context:
- In the March 4 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, Sean Hannity questioned Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s decision to reject calls for a no-fly zone, saying: ‘OK, so they won’t stop importing Russian oil and they won’t won’t even have a no-fly zone?” (President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports this morning.)
- On March 4, retired General Phillip Breedlove, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Europe, affirmed the The story with Martha MacCallum that “there are ways to build no-fly zones” that would not bring American and Russian pilots into direct combat, and that “they can be built in less bellicose ways”.
- On March 4, Fox News contributor and retired General Keith Kellogg pushed for a no-fly zone during an appearance on Fox News. America Reportsclaiming that “no plan is perfect, but there is a way to do it and we should at least explore it”.
- In the March 6 edition of Meet the press, NBC anchor Chuck Todd pressed Secretary of State Anthony Blinken about his reluctance to enforce a no-fly zone, saying, “Why exclude the no-fly zone? Why not make Putin believe it’s possible?
- On March 7, CNN presenter Brianna Keilar misleadingly compared the lack of a no-fly zone to the “minimum” of countries like Britain and France at the start of World War II, saying : “World War II with Poland – you saw France and Britain really doing the bare minimum. And eventually we see Poland becoming – the Nazis invasion of Poland and then the Soviets becoming this doorway entering World War II. How are we not – how are we not the same?”
- On March 7, retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman argued for a no-fly zone on MSNBC Reports by José Diaz-Balartclaiming that there is a way to “frame it, like a safe humanitarian corridor”.
- During a March 6 appearance on CBS Confront the Nation, former US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker told presenter Margaret Brennan there should be a no-fly zone: ‘We’re not here to hit anything . We make it clear to the Russian military that we will not hit their helicopters or planes as long as they remain outside the no-fly zone.
- In the March 7 edition of CNN At this hour with Kate Boldaun, the former first lady of Ukraine Kateryna Yushchenko pleaded for a no-fly zone. She described the strategy as a panacea, saying: “There’s so much more to be done to prevent something like this from happening, from a no-fly zone, which would shut down our skies and stop the slaughter, to give us the planes we need and the equipment, the electronic defense warfare systems, the fighter planes, the Patriot and Stinger missiles, a trade embargo, much tougher sanctions. so much more that could be done to not allow something like this to happen.