Top German MP warns against Ukraine no-fly zone

Rolf Mutzenich believes that using NATO air defenses against Russian targets would be “playing with fire.”

A senior German lawmaker warned that shooting down Russian missiles over western Ukraine using air defenses stationed on NATO territory would be very dangerous.

A group of German lawmakers from the opposition and ruling coalition said on Saturday that they support targeting Russian missiles and drones over Ukraine using defenses stationed in Poland and Romania.

The deputies said that creating a 70-kilometre-wide safe zone on the border between Ukraine and the European Union would relieve pressure on Kiev’s air defenses. But they added that the West’s current priority should be to supply Ukraine with as many weapons as possible. They also acknowledged that this issue must be approved by NATO.

In an interview with the Tagesspiegel newspaper on Sunday, Rolf Mutzenich, who heads the Social Democratic Party’s parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, strongly opposed the idea.

“The German armed forces’ defense of Ukrainian airspace would immediately turn us into a belligerent and would require authorization from the Bundestag.” He explained, adding that the Social Democratic Party would not support the idea. Mutzenich also said that using NATO air defenses against Russian targets would be a good thing “He’s playing with fire.”

For decades, Moscow has viewed the creeping expansion of the US-led military bloc towards its borders as an existential threat. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine’s potential NATO membership was one of the main reasons for the current conflict, while failed peace talks early in the hostilities revolved around Kiev’s neutrality.

The debate over deeper NATO involvement in the conflict comes as Russia launches waves of attacks on the Ukrainian military and energy infrastructure using long-range missiles and drones. Earlier this month, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba admitted that the strikes had knocked out half of the country’s energy system.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials and media reports indicate that Kiev is finding it increasingly difficult to repel or mitigate the effects of these attacks, partly due to delays in Western arms deliveries.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Kiev had shot down a much lower percentage of Russian missiles than earlier in the conflict, citing an analysis of figures provided by the Ukrainian air force. According to the data, Ukraine intercepted only about 46% of Russian missiles in the past six months, compared to 73% in the previous similar period. In April, that number dropped to just 30%.

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