NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg participates in a press statement Friday prior to an extraordinary NATO foreign ministers meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Credit: Olivier Douliery / AP

BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the military organization will not police a no-fly zone over Ukraine, warning that such a move could end in a widespread war in Europe.

Speaking Friday after chairing a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, Stoltenberg said “we are not going to move into Ukraine, neither on the ground, nor in the Ukrainian airspace.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces have ramped up their attacks in Ukraine, launching hundreds of missiles and artillery strikes on cities and making significant gains in the south.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has appealed to the West to enforce a no-fly zone over his country, most recently after a fire overnight at one of Ukraine’s nuclear plants, the largest in Europe.

“The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighter planes into Ukrainian airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” Stoltenberg said. “We understand the desperation, but we also believe that if we did that, we would end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe.”

“We have a responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine,” he said.