Today is the twelfth day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and more than 1.5 million people have fled the country. UN has termed this Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.

Undeterred, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to punish everyone who “committed atrocities” in the war that claimed hundreds of lives, including women and children.

“It’s murder, deliberate murder,” Zelensky raged in an address as he warned of more shelling to come Monday. “We will not forgive, we will not forget, we will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war on our land,” he said. “There will be no quiet place on this Earth except the grave.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that The United States had seen very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians in Ukraine. For example, Russian forces pummelled Ukrainian cities from the air, land, and sea today with warnings they were preparing for an assault on the capital Kyiv. In addition, terrified civilians failed for a second day to escape besieged Mariupol due to ongoing fighting.

The third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine to find a way out of the bloody conflict is Monday.

International sanctions intended to punish Moscow have done little to slow the invasion, and Washington said it was now discussing a ban on Russian oil imports with Europe.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants NATO allies to immediately declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine as a deterrent to weaken Russian advancement in the war. But NATO has disapproved of Ukraine’s appeal for a no-fly zone, prompting fierce criticism from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said the move greenlighted Russia’s bombing campaign of his country.

Military analysts say there is no chance that the US, Britain, and their European allies will impose a no-fly zone because it could quickly escalate the war in Ukraine into a nuclear confrontation between NATO and nuclear-armed Russia.  

The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighter planes into Ukrainian airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said Friday. “We understand the desperation, but we also believe that if we did that, we would end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe.”

Moreover, President Vladimir Putin has threatened “colossal and catastrophic consequences not only for Europe but also the whole world” if a no-fly zone is imposed.

“We have a responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine,” said NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg on Friday. He announced the decision following an urgent meeting of the 30-member alliance in Brussels.

 

He said helping Ukraine protect its skies from Russian missiles and warplanes would require NATO forces to shoot down Russian aircraft, a move that could result in a “full-fledged war in Europe involving many more countries.”

“We are not part of this conflict,” he said.