Boris Johnson expresses ‘deep upset’ over refusal of Ukraine no-fly zone – ‘Agonising’

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The Prime Minister spoke to Sky News’ Beth Rigby to state that despite almost daily phone calls with President Zelensky on how to aid Ukraine, NATO must not take that action for fear of the message it sends to President Putin. Speaking to Alex Crawford, a special correspondent for Sky News, Mr Zelensky accused the West of being indecisive on the no-fly zone issue, which he and other Ukrainian officials have called for.

Mr Zelensky has repeatedly pushed western leaders on “closing the skies” in the fight against what he referred to as “the Nazis”.

He said: “If you are united against the Nazis and this terror, you have to close. 

“Don’t wait for me to ask you several times, a million times. Close the sky.

“Close the sky and stop the bombing.”

NATO is a purely defensive organisation and the result of imposing a no-fly zone would lead to shooting down Russian planes, which is equivalent to starting another world war.

Boris Johnson said: “We’ve had some very frank conversations and ones which have been deeply upsetting because there is a line beyond which, quite frankly, the UK and NATO would be deemed to be in direct conflict with Russia.”

The Prime Minister added: “It’s agonising, absolutely agonising. 

“I’ve had this conversation at least a couple of times with Volodymyr but I think the difficulty is that it will require me to order RAF jets, UK pilots into the air with a mission to shoot down Russian fast jets.”

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon was interviewed on ITV’s political programme Representing Border on Wednesday to discuss the difficulties associated with a no-fly zone.

The First Minister said: “I understand and 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 defensively and we have a situation right now where perhaps the only thing nuclear weapons are deterring is the ability to properly and directly help Ukraine.

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

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During the interview with Ms Rigby, the Prime Minister also addressed global concerns that Putin may be preparing to use chemical weapons in their attacks on Ukraine.

Mr Johnson said it “is straight out of their playbook, they start saying that there are chemical weapons that have been stored by their opponents or by the Americans and so when they themselves deploy chemical weapons, as I fear they may, they have a sort of maskirovka – a fake story – ready to go.”

Moscow declared on Wednesday that it had discovered a military biological weapons programme in Ukraine containing fatal pathogens like anthrax and plague.

Speaking on the likelihood of Russia adopting the use of chemical weapons in their assault on Ukraine, Jen Psaki, White House press secretary said: “they have the capacity and the capability.”

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