John Bolton: Impose no-fly zone over western Ukraine, expect Putin to wreak more destruction

In a wide-ranging interview, the former National Security Advisor highlighted both the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and the state of the Russian military.

Updated: March 10, 2022 - 10:16pm

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The Biden administration should ban Russian warplanes from flying over western Ukraine and should expect an enraged Vladimir Putin to wreak more devastation as he aims to recoup his military's reputation, former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said Thursday.

In a wide-ranging interview on the John Solomon Reports podcast, Bolton, who also served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, highlighted both the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and the state of the Russian military.

The refugee crisis alone merits imposing flight restrictions on portions of Ukraine, he argued.

"I would, at a minimum, consider a no-fly zone in the western part of Ukraine for humanitarian purposes," Bolton said, noting that "we now have perhaps two and a half million Ukrainians, mostly women and children, who have crossed borders into Poland and other nearby countries, another million internally displaced."

"This is a huge human tragedy," he said.

The crisis will remain unresolved in the foreseeable future, Bolton said, in part because Putin wants to recoup the standing of his military. 

"I don't think there's a prospect of a diplomatic resolution in the near term," Bolton said. "I think the performance of the Russian military is so bad that reputational damage is so extensive, Putin has got to do something to get to a point where he can claim victory, he can claim that he has accomplished his aims."

Fighters in Ukraine have dealt serious blows to the Russian invading force, impeding what Putin reportedly believed would be a quick victory. Reports from inside Ukraine have depicted Russian tanks, trucks, and aircraft in shambles, having been ambushed by defending forces. Video clips from Ukraine reportedly have shown captured Russian soldiers in tears, claiming they didn't know they were being sent into combat.

"The Ukrainian overall performance is fantastic," Bolton said. 

Bolton said he did not know what Putin would do to recoup the reputation of his military.

"I fear it's going to cause a lot more destruction," he said.

The process could play out into the spring, Bolton noted

"I hope it's not months away," he said. "We're certainly weeks away. So the the near term is just more grinding down to the Ukrainians, and it's going to be a tragedy to watch I'm afraid."