Boris Johnson reveals ‘upsetting’ calls with Volodymyr Zelensky over calls for NATO no-fly zone

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Boris Johnson reveals his ‘deeply disturbing’ talks with Volodymyr Zelensky over Ukraine’s demand for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone, while the prime minister touts his counterpart as ‘one of the most extraordinary leaders of recent times’

  • Boris Johnson revealed some phone calls with Volodymyr Zelensky ‘deeply disturbing’
  • He said the pair discussed Ukrainian pleas for a no-fly zone several times
  • But Mr Johnson said the UK needs to be ‘realistic’ about requests as he again ruled it out
  • Johnson said Mr Zelensky is “one of the most extraordinary leaders of recent times.”

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Boris Johnson revealed on Thursday that talks with Volodymyr Zelensky about Ukraine’s demands for a no-fly zone were “deeply troubling”, but the UK needs to be “realistic” about the ramifications of such a move.

Johnson said he has discussed the no-fly zone issue with the Ukrainian president “at least a few times now” and that it is “painful.”

But the prime minister again ruled out sending British fighter jets to seal off the skies over Ukraine, saying the world must avoid conflict between nuclear powers.

Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson also praised Mr. Zelensky when he described his counterpart as “one of the most extraordinary leaders of recent times.”

Boris Johnson revealed on Thursday that talks with Volodymyr Zelensky about Ukraine's demands for a no-fly zone were 'deeply troubling', but the UK must be 'realistic' about the ramifications of such a move

Boris Johnson revealed on Thursday that talks with Volodymyr Zelensky about Ukraine’s demands for a no-fly zone were ‘deeply troubling’, but the UK must be ‘realistic’ about the ramifications of such a move

President Zelensky has repeatedly asked NATO countries to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

But the UK and other allies have rejected the plea as it would pit NATO jets directly against Russian jets in a situation that could quickly ignite major conflict between Moscow and the West.

Speaking to Sky News’ Beth Rigby Interviews show, Mr Johnson said: “I think any leader in his position would say the exact same thing.

“They’d say, ‘Why can’t you provide that air cover? Why can’t you, as the West, just help clear our skies of Russian planes and avoid being bombed from the sky, this, this evil going on in Europe?

“And you know, we’ve had some very candid conversations and they’ve been deeply disturbing…”

But Johnson said the “difficulty” of maintaining a no-fly zone is that there is a “line above which … the UK and NATO would be deemed to be in conflict, direct conflict, with Russia”.

He said, ‘It’s painful. It’s absolutely painful. And I’ve had this conversation with Volodymyr at least a few times now, but I think the difficulty is that I have to order RAF jets, British pilots in the air with a mission to shoot down Russian fast jets.

“And that’s something that – all my life, literally all my life, all my childhood, I remember it’s something we’ve done everything we can to avoid, because that’s going to be a conflict between two P5 nuclear powers, two members of the Security Council.’

Johnson also praised Mr Zelensky when he described his counterpart as “one of the most extraordinary leaders of recent times”

He added: “I think we have to be realistic and we are going to do everything we can to support the Ukrainian people, to support the amazingly heroic Ukrainian resistance.”

Johnson and Zelensky have spoken almost every day since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion two weeks ago.

Mr Johnson said: ‘Volodymyr has been one of the most extraordinary leaders of recent times in the way he has gathered…he has not just gathered his people together. He has gathered the whole world for the cause of Ukraine.’

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