“Only the closure of the airspace could have prevented deaths”





In Ukraine they have made up their minds that they will never be part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). They refer to it in the compound conditional. “If we had been part of NATO, we would not be at war now,” he says forcefully Katrin Martell, analyst and translator in Odessa. She lives in the pearl of the Black Sea, which since the beginning of the war has been in the crosshairs of Vladimir Putin. His obsession goes beyond the impact of the conflict on people’s lives, so far during the war he has been very concerned about cultural heritage and considers that only with “the closure of the sky can the largest opera and ballet theater be saved of Europe”.

The city, which has one of the most important ports in Ukraine, is still resisting the onslaught of Russian aggression that collides, with no possibility of progress, against the neighboring city of Mykolaiv, the retaining wall against the land invasion. However, the permanent threat of suffering an assault by sea or air does not vanish among its population. Martell assures RTVE.es that many families would have slept more peacefully during these months of conflict if the sky had closed. set a no fly zone has been one of the main demands of the Ukrainians before NATO, however, the organization ruled it out since the beginning of March to “avoid a direct confrontation with Moscow”.

“How many more deaths and losses are needed to close the sky over Ukraine? How are the civilians in Kharkov or Mykolaiv different from those in Hamburg or Vienna? We are waiting for a decision on closing the sky or sending the forces that they have,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during the first days of the war, referring directly to NATO. “You can send us fighter jets and air defense systems, which will give us the strength we need. That is the help that the world must give, not only to Ukraine, but also to themselves, to show that humanity will win,” he said. Zelenski who will also participate via telematics in the NATO summit that is being held this week in Madrid.

A meeting that brings together 41 Heads of State and Government in the Spanish capital and which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the accession of Spain. Among the attendees will be the secretary general of the military organization, Jens Stoltenberg, the 30 allied countries, four invited Asia-Pacific countries (Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea), four other member countries of the European Union but not of the Alliance, as well as the holders of the European Commission and the European Council.

Ukraine loses hope as it asks for more weapons

The young Odesana clarifies that Zelenski himself has been changing his speech regarding NATO support and that he is already aware that, only, “they can give us weapons, but that they are not going to intervene in a direct clash with Russia nor are they going to close the airspace”. It is a strong organization, he believes, but that its beneficiaries are “exclusively the Member States”. “They will not come to our defense as they are too afraid of a direct clash with Russia,” he adds. “Ordinary Ukrainians were looking forward to NATO involvement. That didn’t happen, so now Ukraine has lost its hopes,” agrees Cecilia Kupchnskydoctor and professor of Political Science in kyiv.

Ordinary Ukrainians were looking forward to NATO’s involvement. This did not happen, so now Ukraine has lost its hopes

The silence of those who neither defend war nor NATO

Civil society sees how the war does not stop and has internalized that the neutrality of Ukraine is one of the key points to negotiate a ceasefire. There is no unanimity of opinion on the role of NATO, not even on the armed struggle. The voices of those who call for more negotiations and fewer warmongering speeches are not usually heard. Vladimir is the fictitious name of a young man who lives in Zaporiya and who is against extolling the military alliance and asking for its intervention in Ukraine. “What I want is for the war to stop and that’s not why I don’t love Ukraine,” he says. However, these dissenting voices are not very welcome in this context.

“Over time we will suffer the consequences of the arrival of so many weapons,” he predicts. According to the complaint, there is no record of where they are or in what hands they will end up. This young man does not understand how it is possible that there is no room for dialogue and negotiations. “People who don’t think like me don’t speak publicly. There are voices here that are against NATO, just as there are voices that want peace,” he adds. He feels self-conscious, since he cannot express his opinions freely. He believes that many things are being taken for granted without consulting the Ukrainian society itself. “We are never asked about these things, politicians make their own decisions and people continue to suffer the consequences of the war. They never ask if we want peace”, he laments. He remembers that, in addition, because he is a man, he is obliged to perform military service in the country and is prohibited from leaving it.

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However, attacks by air are becoming more common and bloody. “If we had received adequate support from the beginning of the war, if they had closed the sky, tens of thousands of human casualties could have been avoided and our cities could have been saved,” Martell counters. Anna Strutinsky He has witnessed the bombing of a school in Mykolaiv, two consecutive bombs have killed his father, one of the civilians who took refuge in the basement of the school.

Fatigue if the conflict drags on

Their locality is strategic in the conflict and they live the daily consequences of the war. Strutinskiy, after burying his father, decided to go to the west of the country. He has no expectations for the Madrid summit. “The Ukrainian people hoped that NATO would close the airspace,” agrees with his countrywomen. He considers that if this had been the case, the air attacks would not have killed so many people and that so many cities would not have been destroyed. Kostiantyn Kuzhelniy He is a businessman, political adviser and comedian, he has been working in Donbas in recent months, where the bulk of the Russian troops are currently concentrated.

They have been at war since 2014, at first they began to notice the arms aid they receive from Western countries, but it has not been enough because the Kremlin continues to win and controls more and more territory in Donbas. Last Friday, the governor of Lugansk, Sergei Haidai, announced the withdrawal of its troops from the town of Severodonetsk, leaving control to the Russians, who will now advance towards the neighboring town of Lisichansk. Given this scenario, Kuzhelniy considers that the support “of the allies will only materialize in full when Russia attacks the countries that belong to NATO and that, for the moment, these countries still do not feel threatened,” he argues, predicting that, sooner or later, the organization “will have a confrontation with Russia.”

In the North Atlantic Treaty Organization they are beginning to feel a kind of sanctioning fatigue regarding the conflict. In this phase, the allies support by sending more sophisticated weapons that require more training and specific training of Ukrainian soldiers. kyiv, for its part, regrets that they have only been supplied with 10% of the promised weapons. For its part, the Alliance has already warned its members that “we must be prepared for the war to last for years.” It will be difficult to maintain this rate of aid and sanctions in the face of a chronification of the conflict.

Its secretary general announced that a new strategic document will be adopted at this summit in which it will be declared that Russia “it is a threat to our security, peace and stability”. China will also feature in this new strategic statement, as its rise “It is a challenge to our interests, our values ​​and our security“. Stoltenberg’s comments on the entrenchment of the war, collected in an interview with the German newspaper bild confirm the fear that “The war in Ukraine could last for years”. The delay in the time of the conflict is already having a high cost for Europe, however, Sotltenberg assures that the price to pay would be even higher if Russia is not prevented from following the path it has taken since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

NATO strengthens its eastern flanks to deter Russia

Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO has always existed and in recent years has intensified. kyiv has implemented two-thirds of the Alliance’s standards, according to the Ukrainian government. remember that they are the only post-Soviet country to have listed North Atlantic integration as its top priority. “This means that Ukraine is fully determined and motivated on its way to joining the Alliance. NATO countries are now Ukraine’s key partners in terms of military, humanitarian and diplomatic aid. But NATO as an organization is not doing much to help Ukraine directly,” says Cecilia Kupchensky.

The foreseeable enlargement of NATO to Sweden and Finland is seen as an advance in the strategy of dissuading Russia. “NATO will strengthen its eastern flanks and be more armed, but it will not help drive the Russians out of Ukrainian territory”, ditch the expert. She considers that, although the Ukrainians do not have high expectations for the outcome of the Madrid summit, they are grateful for the inclusion of the Ukraine conflict as a main topic. “At least the world does not forget about our war,” although she regrets that, in practical terms, the summit will not make any decisions that directly affect the territory of Ukraine.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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