TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Ukraine has been pleading for the U.S. and NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, but a University of Arizona professor who’s made Russia and Eastern Europe his specialty says it’s just too risky to ask NATO to drive Russian planes out of Ukraine.
University of Arizona political science professor Tom Volgy says if the U.S. and the rest of NATO tried to keep Russian planes from flying over Ukraine that could lead to NATO aircraft firing on Russians—and bring the U.S. into a direct war with a nuclear power.
He says in the Cold War the U.S.-Soviet conflict played out in proxy wars where each side backed smaller countries as those smaller countries fought.
Now the U.S. and NATO are backing Ukraine with millions of dollars in sophisticated weapons, like the Javelin missile, tailor made for stopping Russian tanks.
Volgy says, “There's some 350 million worth of military hardware that’s flown in. There is stuff that you and I are not seeing, which is a very aggressive cyber warfare capability, which we're engaged with. That's probably having a very substantial effect.”
Volgy knows what it’s like to be threatened by Russian tanks. He was born in Hungary. He was nine years old when Hungarians revolted against the communist government there and Russian troops rolled in.
“My parents literally fought in the Hungarian revolution. I remember as a child, seeing Russian tanks killing people on the street where I live. The United States could not get involved in that for fear of risking a global war, but neither would it permit any incursion into the western part of the European world.”
He says anyone who experienced that would not be surprised by what Putin’s doing now.
“Because the Russian aspiration has always been to make sure that there was a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe protecting them," Volgy said. "Whether or not that was going to eventually happen required a substantial amount of risk taking on the part of Putin. He is taking that risk now.”
Volgy says to use nuclear weapons, Putin would have to have support from others in the Russian government and they would stop short, because they understand the retaliation that would follow would amount to national suicide.
And Volgy says if Putin does topple the Ukrainian government, occupying Ukraine would mean years of Russian soldiers being killed by resistance forces and a Russian public outraged by the deaths. He says Russia has suppressed any media within its borders that would help Russians learn of Russian soldiers killed in the current invasion.
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