The United States has ruled out enforcing a “no-fly zone” on Russian aircraft over Ukraine after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Western nations to consider such a measure to stop any further bombardment by Russia.
In a video address, Zelenskyy said Russia had launched 56 rocket strikes and fired 113 cruise missiles in the past five days since the start of the war on February 24.
Zelenskyy, who did not specify how and by whom a no-fly zone would be enforced, accused Russia of committing war crimes and said it should be brought before an international tribunal.
He also said Russia had continued to bombard Ukrainian cities during a first round of talks with Ukrainian officials in Belarus on Monday.
“I believe that Russia is trying to apply pressure in this unsubtle way. Do not waste time. We do not accept such tactics. Fair negotiations can occur when one side does not hit the other side with rocket artillery at the very moment of negotiations,” he said.
But Washington, which has promised military aid, rejected the call to establish a no-fly zone, saying it would be a step towards a direct conflict between the United States and Russia.
“The president has been very clear that he is not intending to send US troops to fight a war with Russia,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Monday.
“And I think what’s important to note here is that is essentially what this would be a step toward, because a no-fly zone would require implementation,” she added.
“It would require deploying US military to enforce which would be a direct conflict, a potentially direct conflict, and potentially war with Russia, which is something we are not planning to be a part of.”
More than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations, setting off a refugee crisis with thousands also awaiting passage at seven European border crossings.
At least 102 civilians in Ukraine have been killed since the invasion started, but the real figure could be much higher, the UN said on Monday.