Canada

Ukraine no-fly zone shouldn’t be off the table for NATO, says Bergen

Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen says that Canada and other NATO members should not be taking Ukraine’s request for a no-fly zone off the table, and should further consider how to protect humanitarian corridors for those fleeing the war.

“I don’t think NATO should take anything off the table at this point. And I certainly don’t think NATO should be announcing what they will or will not do to Putin. I just don’t think that’s the best strategy,” Bergen said in an interview on CTV’s Question Period airing on Sunday when asked whether Canada’s Conservatives support NATO’s position on a no-fly zone.

In his address to Parliament on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky restated his request for NATO countries to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

“Can you imagine when you call your friends, your friendly nations, and you ask: ‘Please close the sky. Close the airspace. Please stop the bombing. How many more cruise missiles have to fall on our cities until you make this happen?’ And they in return express their deep concerns about the situation,” Zelensky said.

Canada has resisted this request as have other allied countries because it would put them in a direct combat positon with Russia, potentially shooting down their planes, and likely triggering an escalated response from Putin’s forces. Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly called it a “red line” because it would start an international conflict, though she has vowed to “do everything possible up to that limit.”

In her response to Zelensky’s address, Bergen suggested more protection for humanitarian corridors could be a next step.

Asked about how the corridors allowing Ukrainians to flee to safety without fear of being attacked by the Russians would work, Bergen said she doesn’t necessarily think this would require a no-fly zone.

“Obviously, it’s up to experts and others to talk about and decide what’s the best way to protect those corridors. Is it by protecting the airspace? Or, it could be by better equipping the Ukrainians themselves. But our point is, we don’t believe Canada or the world should just be throwing up our hands and saying that there’s nothing that we could do,” Bergen said. She cited Russian President Vladimir Putin claiming he wouldn’t be killing innocent people trying to escape despite there being evidence to the contrary.

“Ideally Ukraine would be able to shoot them down themselves, but they need to be supplied with those missiles to be able to do that. So that would be obviously ideal, but if they can’t, there’s got to be other ways that NATO or other allies can help to protect women and children especially, who are trying to escape,” said Bergen.

“We believe that there should be protection for those humanitarian corridors,” said Bergen. “There are others that have said that it’s something that should be discussed, and that is doable.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is heading to Brussels for a special NATO meeting on the war next week, and Bergen said that at that meeting allied countries should discuss “every option that they have” to help Ukraine.

There are indications from the federal Liberals that more defence spending will be part of the upcoming budget, and that’s something Bergen said the Conservatives would “very much” support.

“It’s one thing to make promises, it’s another to do it. And we very much would support better spending, more spending for our men and women in uniform, and for our defense budget.”



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