Fears of World War 3 are rising after Russian President Vladimir Putin increased his country’s activity in Ukraine and the Baltic region and unleashed his sharpest words yet for the United States, saying that America has plans to “subdue” Russia.
Speaking at the All-Russia Peoples’ Front in Moscow this week, Putin said no other country has been able to suppress Russia and the United States will not be able to, either.
Putin added that while Russians have no problems with the American people, the U.S. leaders are a different story.
“I think America and its people are more liked than disliked by people here [in Russia]. It’s the politics of the ruling class [in the U.S.] that is likely negatively viewed by the majority of our citizens.”
Vladimir Putin has had sharp words for the United States after President Barack Obama called out Russia for invading Ukraine. The United States has also been a leader in a round of economic sanctions against Russia.
While Putin may have tough rhetoric for the U.S., fears are rising that Russia could actually spark World War 3 with its neighbors in the Baltic region. Russia has greatly increased its military activity in recent weeks, using warplanes and fighter jets to test NATO defenses.
Russia has also been accused of a new troop build-up in Ukraine, with reports that new soldiers and weaponry are crossing the border into a region controlled by pro-Moscow rebels.
Putin was met with hostility at a recent Group of 20 (G20) meeting in Australia, where he was confronted by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who told him to “get out of Ukraine.” With no Western allies, many view Putin as a dangerous loner who could push Russia into World War 3.
Slate writer Lucian Kim noted that Putin was making himself a pariah.
“New sanctions against Russia will decrease the West’s influence and give Putin even less to lose. At the same time, he knows the West isn’t ready to go to war. The biggest dilemma is how to talk to Putin, now that he has become a pariah.”
But Vladimir Putin himself may be trying to quell fears of World War 3. At the G20 meeting, he spoke optimistically about the conflict in Ukraine ending, though behind the scenes he is reportedly demanding a guarantee that Ukraine won’t try to join NATO.