Germany wants NATO to take down Russian missiles and drones hovering in Ukrainian airspace
05/21/2024 // Belle Carter // Views

German lawmakers push for NATO to use anti-craft systems to take down Russian missiles and drones targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure and military installations from the territory of neighboring Poland and Romania. This measure, they say, should create a no-fly zone over western Ukraine amid its burgeoning conflict with Russia.

Senior researcher at the Munich Security Conference Nico Lange, who also was former chief of staff at the German Ministry of Defense from 2019-2022, floated the idea. He said that this would lead to the creation of a 70-kilometer-wide safe zone on the border between the European Union and Ukraine. At the same time, this will allow Kyiv to re-deploy its air defense systems, which are in short supply, from the west of the country to the front line.

As Ukraine is currently struggling on the battlefield due to manpower shortages and hardware losses, Lange urged back in April to use the numerous "patriot" systems on the eastern borders to shoot down all Russian missiles and drones that they have within range over Ukraine. He was referencing the alliance's air defense systems in eastern Poland. "This would be fully covered under international law," Lange assured.

He further argued that there is a need for an "unconventional solution," urging a "change in strategy" in Western support for Ukraine. He also believes that simultaneously and in the long term, there should be an increase in the production of air defense systems in Europe.

Lawmakers from both the ruling coalition and the opposition support the idea, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) has reported. "Defending the airspace over Ukraine from Poland and Romania should not be ruled out in the long term," Anton Hofreiter, a member of parliament for the Green Party, which is part of the German coalition, told FAZ. However, such a move is "not up for debate" at the moment as the current priority for the West is to supply Ukraine with significantly more arms and ammunition, he pointed out.

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Marcus Faber from the Free Democratic Party (FDP), also in the ruling coalition, agreed that the "airspace over the Ukrainian border regions" could be protected by air defenses on NATO territory. According to Faber, this would only be possible if the West could secure enough ammunition for the air defense systems.

Roderich Kiesewetter, a lawmaker for the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU), also said Kyiv's Western backers could shoot down Russian drones over western Ukraine. "This would relieve the Ukrainian air defense and enable it to protect the front," he explained. He recalled how the U.S., U.K. and France assisted Israel with countering a large-scale bombardment by Iran in April, saying it showed that countries can provide such help to their allies without actually becoming "a party to the conflict."

Russian President Vladimir Putin's administration has already said it is set to conduct tactical nuclear weapons drills, a warning to the West to avoid escalating the conflict. Meanwhile, Poland expressed willingness to host U.S. nuclear weapons while French President Emmanuel Macron said he could send French and other NATO soldiers to Ukraine to augment their military capacity.

Russia downs 47 drones, missiles in Ukraine’s air raid

According to Russia's defense ministry earlier in the week, Moscow's air defense troops were able to shoot down 31 drones and 16 missiles launched by Ukraine in overnight attacks focused in the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine. The ministry reported that seven drones and four guided missiles were taken down over the Russia-occupied Crimea, eight drones were destroyed over Kursk and four drones were intercepted over the Lipetsk region. The troops also destroyed 12 drones and 12 guided missiles over Belgorod.

The attack in Belgorod came a day after a Ukrainian missile attack killed at least 15 people and injured more than 30 others, the regional governor said Monday.

Meanwhile, drones operated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's military intelligence agency (HUR) hit production facilities of the Russian weapons manufacturing company Basalt in Tula on May 16, a military intelligence source reported. (Related: Ukraine claims to be developing “unstoppable” AI-controlled drones that can attack targets on the battlefield.)

According to the news outlet Kyiv Independent, Russian air defenses shot down two drones over Tula Oblast, one over Bryansk Oblast, one over Kaluga Oblast, one over Belgorod Oblast, and six over occupied Crimea at night, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed. The source did not specify the scale of the consequences of the attack.

Apart from the attack on an oil depot in Belgorod Oblast and an electrical substation in Lipetsk Oblast on May 13, Ukraine's military intelligence claimed it was also behind the attack on the oil refinery in Volgograd two days earlier. The Kaluganefteprodukt oil depot and the Novolipetsk metallurgical plant were also reportedly struck by Kyiv's drones.

Head over to to read updates on the escalating Russia-Ukraine conflict.

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