Officials said discussions ranged from supporting Zelensky and senior Ukrainian officials in a possible move to Lviv in western Ukraine, to the possibility of Zelensky and his aides being forced to flee Ukraine altogether and the creation of a new government in Poland.
The sources said discussions are preliminary and no decisions have been taken.
American and European officials in the early days of the war believed that Zelensky’s move to Lviv might be possible because it was not clear whether Russia would target western Ukraine. But now – given the dramatic Russian escalation over the past several days against civilian targets across Ukraine – they are not sure that Russia will retain any inch of Ukrainian territory.
All signs point to that [Putin] A senior Western intelligence official said on Friday. “And I think the shoveling of the bottom of the barrel in some of these other places suggests that they now have to all go, literally, not just figuratively, to make sure they can go ahead” to take over the whole country.
Western officials and US lawmakers familiar with the discussions said one idea that had been floated, but still unlikely, was the possibility of NATO creating a no-fly zone over a small part of western Ukraine. That would, in theory, provide strength for Zelensky’s government and allow Ukraine to build and polish an insurgency against Russian forces — something the intelligence official said would not require Kyiv to stay in place.
Evidence for that [the Ukrainians] It can continue to fight, even if it is conventional, without central command and control from the Capitol.”
But sources conceded that a NATO no-fly zone over western Ukraine was highly unlikely for the same reasons that it refused to impose a no-fly zone over the entire country – as it would likely mean direct engagement with the Russian military. .
One of the sources said that if there was an attempt to close some parts of Ukrainian airspace, it would most likely be coordinated by a “coalition of the willing”, not NATO as a bloc. Likewise, the West’s willingness to fund and support the Ukrainian insurgency varies among NATO member states, according to sources, with some hesitating more than others due to the risk of Russian retaliation.
CNN previously reported that US and European officials had told Zelensky that they were ready to help him evacuate Ukraine. But he refused so far.