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Are we on the brink of WWIII?

Russia ramps up the threat of nuclear conflict

Russia, like China, has long been known for its warmongering threats when under pressure. But more than two years on from the massive escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian war that began in 2014, the Kremlin has pumped up its sabre-rattling rhetoric towards the West and NATO nations. Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has spoken of “total war” if Russia is forced to return to the 1991 borders established at the collapse of the Soviet Union. From the bunker that is the Kremlin come threats of Russia using the “entire strategic arsenal of our state” to fire missiles at London, Washington, Berlin and Kiev. Medvedev, a close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, added that missiles would also strike “all other beautiful historical places that have long been included in the flight targets of our nuclear triad.” He continued: “We have the courage to do this if the disappearance of a thousand-year-old country, our great Motherland, is at stake.” Meanwhile, after prompting from UK Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron, the USA has approved a package of between $75bn and $97bn in humanitarian, financial and military support for Ukraine, making the nation the top recipient of American aid. The former prime minister says he wants all Ukraine’s allies to “do more” to help defeat Russia and that together they can “outmatch” Putin’s regime. In an interview with Sky News, Cameron said: “What I’m clear about is that Britain is absolutely in the lead of providing support [to Ukraine]. The first to provide so many different weapons systems and, of course, first to give the new security guarantees to Ukraine. Now others are following that.”

With Russian missiles aimed at strategic targets across the globe, can Britain, or even the USA, offer security guarantees to any nation?

But with Russian missiles aimed at strategic targets across the globe, can Britain, or even the USA, offer security guarantees to any nation? The Middle East, where Israel has received condemnation for its seemingly merciless reprisals on Gaza following the 7 October Hamas attack on Israeli settlements, is another tinderbox ready to spark further conflict across the entire region. And since January, the USA and Britain have made multiple strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, in response to the surge of missile and drone attacks on international commercial shipping by the Iran-backed militia group. These are the headline-grabbing conflicts; other wars, less well reported, continue to be waged across the planet – some large, some small, some recent, some lasting decades.

Meantime, the major nations take sides, the politicians posture, certain individuals – as demonstrated since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas conflict – make incendiary anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim comments that encourage hatred and violent actions here at home as well as in war zones. The planet seems more divided and more perilously poised on the brink of global conflict than at any time since the end of WWII. Could it actually happen? Could one of the major players actually push the nuclear button? Putin, after so long in power, now frequently appears vague and unstable. Trump, who might well regain the US presidency this year, is a loose cannon with a proven capacity to act first and think afterwards. But a third world war would leave no opportunity to reflect after the event. A nuclear world war would be brief and terminal. There would be no winners, no victory celebrations, no annual remembrance days no memorials to the fallen. It seems impossible even to consider such an outcome, and yet it is possible. Is there anyone out there who could make world leaders and warmongers see sense, calm the turmoil, and bring some sort of lasting peace to this turbulent planet? Or is it already too late? Has the final countdown already begun?

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