'Will be seen as start of WW3': Putin's invasion to become ground zero for global conflict

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Putin ‘attacking UK as well as Ukraine’ says Sovsun

When Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his military the greenlight to cross the country’s western border into eastern Ukraine, experts, commentators, academics and even politicians floated the idea that World War 3 was near. Yet, more than six months later, any sign that direct conflict might move into the wider world has yet to be realised. The war has remained within Ukraine, with on-the-ground and aerial fighting continuing today, mostly in the eastern and south-eastern regions that were captured by Russia early on.

In recent months, politicians around the have repeatedly warned of “war fatigue”: as the battle draws out, they say, people will become desensitised to the horrific events and lose the ability to assess the extent to which developments could affect them.

Just last month United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world is “just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation”.

Others, like Dr Yuri Felshtinsky, author of ‘Blowing up Ukraine: The Return of Russian Terror and the Threat of World War III’, have taken a long-term view of the war, claiming it is just the beginning of a far-reaching and monumental turning point in history.

The Russian-American academic, who left the former Soviet Union in the Seventies for the US, told Express.co.uk that he had been shouting about the dangers of Russia and Putin “for years” before the February invasion.

Putin's war in Ukraine continues

World War 3: Dr Yuri Felshtinsky believes February 24 could be the beginning of WW3 (Image: GETTY)

Vladimir Putin during a military parade

Vladimir Putin: The Russian President does is not willing to call and end to the war (Image: GETTY)

While Dr Yuri says he is glad that the world “now sees how dangerous Putin is, how dangerous the regime is, how dangerous Russia is today,” his assessments of the war are bleak: “I would argue that February 24 will be written in future textbooks as the beginning of World War 3.

“The question now is: How long will this war continue? And what price will we pay for the victory?”

He believes that Putin “will lose” this future war but that Western powers must assess how much damage Russia would manage “to inflict on the rest of the world” before being defeated.

In the days after February 24, 2022, maps, graphics and stories showed how Russia’s nuclear and missile capabilities were within touching distance of almost all of Europe, the UK and even the US.

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United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Antonio Guterres: The UN Secretary-General only recently warned of ‘nuclear annihilation’ (Image: GETTY)

Over the course of the summer, Russian state television welcomed pundits and commentators to present shiny digitised and CGI demonstrations of lethal missiles travelling at speeds towards capital cities around the world, and how each would be blown off the face of the Earth.

None of those doomsday scenarios have been realised, but Dr Yuri and others are keen to draw attention to the snowballing of major conflicts.

Both World War 1, also known as the Great War, and World War 2 have trigger points attributed to them: World War 1, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand; World War 2, Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

Yet the two global conflicts brewed for years, and in the case of the Great War, decades.

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Dr Yuri Felshtinsky

Yuri Felshtinsky: The Russian-American academic has been studying the politics of Russia for decades (Image: Youtube/The Telegraph)

Volunteers dig graves for their Ukrainian comrades

Ukraine war: Volunteers dig graves for their fallen Ukrainian comrades (Image: GETTY)

Some historians look back to Germany’s 1871 unification and the rise of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck as having laid the groundwork for World War 1; others argue that World War 2 was in fact a continuation of the first war, and directly followed on from the political grievances that kicked-off in the late 19th century.

Today, many academics mark Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia and 2014 invasion of Crimea as early chapters in the most recent skirmishes.

But while whispers of World War 3 are rife, the chances of another global conflict have been played down by equally as many political watchers.

Veronika Melkozerova, a Kyiv-based journalist, recently wrote in The Atlantic that the Ukraine invasion might not be seen as the start of the next world war, but instead “a key turning point in a broader conflict”.

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife

Franz Ferdinand: The Archduke’s assassination, many say, was the trigger for WW1 (Image: GETTY)

And Limor Simhony, a policy advisor and researcher, suggests that any intervention from the Western-backed NATO alliance “won’t spark World War 3”.

Writing for Foreign Policy back in April, he drew attention to how sanctions would eventually suffocate Russia to a position in which extending its war beyond Ukraine would make no sense.

He said: “There are two reasons that this [World War 3] is unlikely. The first is that Russia’s military capabilities are poor relative to those of Western armies.

Adolf Hitler in Poland

World War 2: Many historians say Hitler’s invasion of Poland marked the beginning of WW2 (Image: GETTY)

“Their forces are not sufficiently trained; their equipment and weapons are dated and inferior; they experience major logistical, operational, and tactical difficulties; and their soldiers have low morale.”

While fighting continues, there have been positive signs from the war.

Last month, a deal between Ukraine and Russia made in Turkey allowed ships carrying vital Ukrainian foodstuffs to leave the Black Sea for the rest of the world, avoiding what could have turned into a global food crisis.

Since then, over 50 ships have departed Ukraine, exporting more than 1.2 million tonnes of grain and other produce.



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