September 2016 – RUSSIA – The world is closer to a catastrophic and bloody World War III than at any other point in the past 60 years, experts have warned. Russia and China, both of which are pumping vast amounts of money into their militaries, could soon rival the US in terms of power and prestige. All three nations want to remain a global superpower – if not the only one – and are preparing for war, it is claimed. But they oppose each other on a swathe of issues across the globe, creating a delicate political balance that could collapse and engulf nuclear states and alliances such as NATO. A range of experts have identified several flash points across the globe which are the most likely triggers for such a war today.
The proximity of NATO and Russian bombers flying over Syria, Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Eastern Europe, and China’s movements in the South China Sea are among them. Experts have also raised concerns about the instability of nuclear-power Pakistan as extremist factions and terrorist groups within the country grow in power. Adding to this is these groups’ sworn opposition to neighboring India – which holds its own much-coveted nuclear arsenal. Britain’s Admiral Lord West told The Sun Online: “Basically none of us know what is going to happen but we are in a more dangerous, chaotic and unpredictable time than any other in my 50 years in the force.
“I believe that because of BREXIT, I think Europe is very flaky, I think it is unfortunate that we didn’t stay in, because they actually need our military expertise. “I can see bits of Europe breaking up and when Europe gets into a mess, twice in the past we’ve had to go in there and clear it up with immense loss of blood and lives.”He warned that Britain was not sufficiently investing in its defense – and in particular, its Royal Navy. The investment required to maintain its strength had not materialized in the years since the Falklands War, he said, leaving Britain in a precarious place.
In July, a 25-page report by the US-based think tank Atlantic Council warned of Russia’s growing threat to NATO. NATO has been Europe’s primary military alliance since WWII – all 28 member states have sworn to respond as a group if a single member is attacked. The council’s report warned that Russia was an “existential threat to the Baltic states and Poland” and an annexation could be implemented “with great speed.” It continued: “This might come at a time NATO and the EU are distracted by another crisis, or it might relate to some particular high profile event, the outcomes of which Moscow wants to shape.
“It might also result from a misperception of NATO’s activities and a miscalculation of the Alliance’s resolve.” Admiral Lord West also said: “Russia under Putin is becoming quite aggressive, it’s spending a large amount of money on its military capabilities. “Putin has said he believes in using tactical nuclear weapons if there is a war. That is highly dangerous. “There’s little debate that he thinks of the Baltic States and possibly Poland as a Russian sphere of influence. They are NATO countries – I find that extremely dangerous.” “I think people like Putin understand robust responses, they understand military power. I think he thinks he’ll pick (the Baltic States) off one-by-one.”
Another point of simmering tensions is Syria, where US and Russia are both carrying out airstrikes in support of opposing groups. While they share a common foe in ISIS, the US has backed Kurdish and moderate Syrian rebel groups against President Bashar al-Assad. Russia, on the other hand, is backing al-Assad against the rebels. With both countries carrying out air raids across the relatively small area, the chances of accidental clashes and misperceptions is high. Peter W. Singer, a leading expert on future war, wrote in The Daily Telegraph last year: “As in the past, it is perfectly possible that a third world war could start with a small event, or even by accident. “One of the many Russian bomber planes now probing NATO’s borders could collide with an RAF Typhoon, prompting an aerial skirmish the likes of which the world has not seen for decades.
Peter W. Singer is also among those to suggest World War III could be triggered when “a Japanese or American ship scrapes paint with its Chinese Navy counterpart amid the reefs in the Pacific that are being militarized as part of Asia’s current arms race.” Indeed, Chinese military commanders – who are pushing ahead with new submarine deployments into the US’s Pacific sphere – believe this to be a genuine and legitimate scenario. After a close call last year, China’s naval commander Admiral Wu Shengli warned his US counterpart: “If the United States continues with these kinds of dangerous, provocative acts, there could well be a seriously pressing situation between frontline forces from both sides on the sea and in the air, or even a minor incident that sparks war.” –The Sun