The pressure for still more Nato escalation over Ukraine is ramping up every day. The horrors of the Russian invasion and its shelling of cities must not be used as an excuse to detonate even more killing and destruction.
On Wednesday, Tory defence secretary Ben Wallace revealed to MPs that Britain has now supplied Ukraine’s forces with 3,615 portable anti-tank missiles. He added, “The government has taken the decision to explore the donation of Starstreak high-velocity, man portable anti-air missiles”.
This means missiles, manufactured by Thales Air Defence in Belfast, could soon be used against Russian planes and helicopters. Starstreak is the fastest short-range surface-to-air missile in the world, travelling at over three times the speed of sound.
It is highly likely that all such missile handouts come with British “trainers”. There are already pictures of Nato experts instructing Ukrainian forces about how to operate the war materials they are receiving.
Every new weapons shipment increases the Ukrainian government’s hopes that it can persuade Nato to implement a no-fly zone. The US and Britain have so far rejected such calls, because they mean shooting down Russian aircraft that come into the zone. And that means possible escalation towards a Third World War and the use of nuclear weapons.
The Polish government said on Tuesday it would transfer its fleet of Mig-29 fighter jets to the US air force base in Ramstein, Germany, “immediately and free of charge”. They could then be used by Ukrainian pilots.
But a US Pentagon spokesperson rejected the move. They said, “The prospect of fighter jets ‘at the disposal of the US’ departing from a US Nato base in Germany, to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine, raises serious concerns for the entire Nato alliance.”
There are clearly fraught negotiations still taking place over the use of air power against Russia. Last Sunday US secretary of state Antony Blinken said the US was working with Poland on plans to supply Ukraine with the Mig-29s.
But a Polish government office then tweeted, “Poland won’t send its fighter jets to Ukraine as well as allow to use its airports. We significantly help in many other areas.” Then on Tuesday came the Polish offer. At some point a deal—openly or secretly—is highly likely. And the idea of a no-fly zone has not gone away.
A group of 27 US military and foreign policy establishment figures released an open letter on Tuesday that calls for an amended version of the plan. It signatories included people heavily associated with the recent blood-soaked past of US imperialism.
Among them are Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, former commanding general of the US Army in Europe and former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, retired general Philip Breedlove. Then there are former deputy assistant secretary of defence Brzezinski, former undersecretary of State for global affairs Paula Dobriansky and former undersecretary of defence Eric Edelman.
They urge Biden to “to impose a limited no-fly Zone over Ukraine starting with protection for humanitarian corridors” These “were agreed upon in talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials on Thursday”.
Again this is almost inevitably a route towards a direct war between Nato and Russia with all the horrendous outcomes that means.
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