Boris Johnson reveals his ‘deeply upsetting’ conversations with Volodymyr Zelensky over Ukraine’s demands for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone as the PM praises his counterpart as ‘one of the most extraordinary leaders of recent times’
- Boris Johnson revealed some calls with Volodymyr Zelensky ‘deeply upsetting’
- He said the pair discussed Ukrainian pleas for a no-fly zone a number of times
- But Mr Johnson said UK must be ‘realistic’ about request as he again ruled it out
- Mr Johnson said Mr Zelensky ‘one of most extraordinary leaders of recent times’
Boris Johnson on Thursday revealed conversations with Volodymyr Zelensky about Ukrainian demands for a no-fly zone have been ‘deeply upsetting’ but the UK must be ‘realistic’ about the consequences of such a move.
Mr Johnson said he had discussed the no-fly zone issue with the Ukrainian President ‘at least a couple of times now’ and it is ‘agonising’.
But the Prime Minister again ruled out sending in UK fighter jets to shut down the skies above Ukraine as he said the world must avoid a conflict between nuclear powers.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson also praised Mr Zelensky as he described his counterpart as ‘one of the most extraordinary leaders of recent times’.
Boris Johnson on Thursday revealed conversations with Volodymyr Zelensky about Ukrainian demands for a no-fly zone have been ‘deeply upsetting’ but the UK must be ‘realistic’ about the consequences of such a move
President Zelensky has repeatedly asked NATO nations to enforce a no-fly zone above Ukraine.
But the UK and other allies have rejected the plea on the grounds it would pit NATO jets directly against Russian jets in a situation which could quickly spiral into a 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 be saying exactly the same thing.
‘They’d be saying, why can’t you provide that air cover? Why can’t you, as the West, simply help to clear our skies of Russian planes and stop us being bombarded from the air, stop this, this evil going on in Europe?
‘And you know, we’ve had some very frank conversations and ones in which have been deeply upsetting…’
But Mr Johnson said the ‘difficulty’ of enforcing a no-fly zone is that there is a ‘line beyond which… the UK and NATO would be deemed to be in conflict, direct conflict, with Russia’ .
He said: ‘It’s agonising. It’s absolutely agonising. And I’ve had this conversation at least a couple of times now with Volodymyr, but I think the difficulty is that it will require me to order RAF jets, UK pilots into the air with a mission to shoot down Russian fast jets.
‘And that is something that – all my life, literally all my life, all my childhood, I remember it’s something that we did everything we possibly could to avert, because that will be conflict between two P5 nuclear powers, two members of the security council.’
Mr Johnson also praised Mr Zelensky as he described his counterpart as ‘one of the most extraordinary leaders of recent times’
He added: ‘I think we’ve got to be realistic and we’re going to do everything we can to support the Ukrainian people, to support the amazing heroic Ukrainian resistance.’
Mr Johnson and Mr Zelensky have spoken almost every day since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion two weeks ago.
Mr Johnson said: ‘I think Volodymyr has been one of the most extraordinary leaders of recent times in the way he’s rallied… he’s not only rallied his people. He’s rallied the whole world to the cause of Ukraine.’