Monday, May 16, 2022

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How far is the third world war?

Rosalia Romaniec

The attack on the military training center in Lviv, Ukraine, hit by Russian missiles about a week and a half ago, in which 35 people lost their lives, was also felt intensely in neighboring Poland.

Russian missiles could also hit the territory of NATO member Poland, just 20 kilometers away. This would have prompted NATO to take action. Because, in accordance with Article 5 of the NATO agreement, an attack on an alliance member is considered to have been done on all members. As a matter of fact, US President Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan gave a stern warning after this attack and made a statement that the USA would protect every centimeter of NATO territory.

Fear of nuclear attack

Experts don’t really want to talk about a possible third world war, but such a fear has been around for a long time. Biden recently said, “Let’s not fool ourselves, the idea of ​​sending our war machines, our troops, our planes, our tanks there is a third world war.” That is why, for example, the desire for a no-fly zone to be declared and for NATO to intervene directly in the war is very low. As a matter of fact, this means the risk of confrontation between Russia and NATO.

What if the current crisis comes to such a point?

In such a situation, two possibilities emerge. The first possibility is that a possible world war is waged conventionally without the use of nuclear weapons. In the second and more feared scenario, nuclear weapons come into play.

There are two types of nuclear weapons that are likely to be used in a possible war. Tactical nuclear weapons with shorter range and narrower range of destruction, or strategic nuclear weapons with intercontinental range and greater destructive power. Strategic nuclear weapons were also used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The use of nuclear weapons carries the danger that today’s world will become a pile of rubble.

Putin’s roulette

But can Putin go this far?

Some experts see Russia’s nuclear threats as a bluff, while others take the threats of a former KGB agent to end the world seriously.

“Putin should not forget that NATO is also a nuclear alliance,” in his assessment to DW, according to Radek Sikorski, former Polish Defense Minister, that Putin knows he cannot survive a nuclear war. “The day Putin resorts to nuclear weapons will be the last day of his life,” Sikorsi says.

German-American historian Conrad Jarausch also compares Putin’s strategy with Adolf Hitler’s tactics in 1939. Pointing out that Hitler also fueled a regional conflict, Jarausch warns that a third world war may break out if the West reacts equally intensely.

Stefan Garsztecki, a political scientist and historian from the Chemnitz University of Technology in Germany, states that there is no such automatism and says that the tension stage may not escalate like it did in 1939, with countermeasures being taken. Stating that this can be seen when looking at the frozen conflicts in Georgia and Moldova, Garsztecki states that NATO should define its red lines clearly.

“If Kyiv and Odessa are in danger of returning to Europe’s Aleppo, then the no-fly zone needs to be talked about heavily,” says Garsztecki.

China’s role is decisive

Sven Lange, the commander of the German Army Military History Center, states that the transformation of a regional conflict into a global conflict is frequently seen in history and the best example of this is the First World War.

However, Lange says that Russia does not play a decisive role in a world war, and that it is also important how global powers such as the USA and China position themselves. Predicting that Beijing may not have any interest in such a war, Lange says, “I believe Russia will get support from China, but I don’t think it will be big enough to lead to a conflict with the United States.”

In Eastern Europe, on the other hand, there is growing concern that the war is approaching them as Russia intensifies its attacks on the western part of Ukraine. Although NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says “All for one, one for all”, Russia’s launch of a hypersonic missile at a point not far from the NATO border is not enough to allay fears.

After his contacts in Brussels, US President Joe Biden will go to Ukraine’s neighbor Poland and give a message of solidarity with eastern European countries.

limitation of conflict

But Eastern European countries expect more. Eastern Europeans want NATO to send fighter jets to Ukraine, to close its airspace, to suspend Germany’s energy shipments from Russia, thereby draining Putin’s finances.

Ukrainian writer Katja Petrowskaja, in a program she participated in a short time ago on German second television ZDF, told Europeans “We are all at war. Learn from history.

This Article has been taken and translated from


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