Image ID 2HTKXMH Ukrainian armed forces, Kyiv defend avenues into the capital city preparing for city combat. 01032022 CREDIT JUSTIN YAU, SIPA USA,ALAMY STOCK PHOTO.jpg
Ukrainian armed forces in Kyiv fortify and defend avenues of approach into the capital (Picture: Justin Yau/Sipa USA/Alamy).
Ukraine

Ukraine no-fly zone would lead to third world war, former NATO commander warns

Image ID 2HTKXMH Ukrainian armed forces, Kyiv defend avenues into the capital city preparing for city combat. 01032022 CREDIT JUSTIN YAU, SIPA USA,ALAMY STOCK PHOTO.jpg
Ukrainian armed forces in Kyiv fortify and defend avenues of approach into the capital (Picture: Justin Yau/Sipa USA/Alamy).

A former NATO deputy supreme allied commander has said the alliance cannot impose a no-fly zone on Ukraine as this would lead to the "third world war".

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This is not like Iraq; we're up against a sophisticated enemy with very capable air defence assets.

"This becomes a struggle between the forces of NATO and the forces of Russia, on the ground, quite probably from the sea, in the air, in the space domain, in the information domain, and in the cyber domain."

The former British Army officer added: "This is war. It amounts to 30 countries against Russia. This is the third world war in anybody's language.

"We cannot afford to let that happen."

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace rejected calls for RAF jets to enforce a no-fly zone, warning it would trigger a Europe-wide conflict and could also hamper the Ukrainian forces' ability to counter Russia's military.

He told Sky News: "If you have a no-fly zone you have to enforce a no-fly zone.

"That would involve British fighter jets shooting down Russian fighter jets, probably over Ukraine, that would lead to Article Five triggering of NATO.

"NATO is a self-defence pact, all 30 countries will come to each other's aid, the triggering of that Article Five would lead to a war against Russia across the whole of Europe."

Mr Wallace added: "A no-fly zone would also have to apply to Ukrainian jets, meaning they could not target Russian forces from the air.

"If you had a no-fly zone in Ukraine, the overwhelming scale of the Russian army would be able to drive around with impunity, which it can't at the moment.

Watch: Why aren't Russia's Air Force flying over Ukraine?

The UK's Ministry of Defence has given an update on the latest intelligence on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A tweet read: "While Russian forces have reportedly moved into the centre of Kherson in the south, overall gains across axes have been limited in the last 24 hours.

"This is probably due to a combination of ongoing logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance.

"Heavy Russian artillery and airstrikes have continued to target built-up areas over the past 24 hours, primarily focused on the cities of Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Chernihiv.

"The number of civilians displaced and forced to flee Putin's invasion has reportedly passed 660,000."

Mr Wallace reiterated that the Russians are considerably behind their schedule "by days not hours", and that has led to stresses on their logistical supply chains.

"They have also been surprised by the strength of the Ukrainian resistance."

He told BBC Breakfast that "none of the major cities have been taken control of".

Although Russian troops had entered Kharkiv "it is a city of 1.4 million and they haven't taken control of it and they have suffered considerable casualties in doing so".

The Defence Secretary added that there was low morale among the Russian troops but Vladimir Putin's regime was "ruthless".

He said there was "huge amounts of low morale in the Russian forces, we've seen lots of surrenders".

"But that doesn't take away from the fact you have a very ruthless Russian armed forces leadership and a president who seems to know no limit to how much violence they will use to achieve their aims," he added.