Fears of World War 3 are rising in Europe as Russia takes an increasingly aggressive stance with its neighbors, but the Russian president is claiming there is no reason for worry.
This week, the Russian leader met with military chiefs at his state residence in Sochi. At the meeting, Putin claimed that Russia isn’t trying to start any conflict in the region.
“We pose no threat to anyone and do not intend to get involved in any geopolitical games or intrigues, let alone conflicts, no matter who tries to draw us into them or how they do so,” Putin said. “At the same time, it is indispensable to securely safeguard the sovereignty and integrity of Russia and the security of our allies.”
But many believe that Putin’s words ring hollow. Russia has been ramping up its military presence in the Baltic region, including dozens of instance of war planes and fighter jets flying into neighboring airspace as a test of NATO defenses.
Russia has also stoked fears of World War 3 through its growing involvement in the Ukraine crisis. NATO has accused Russia of sending a new round of troops and weapons into Ukraine in support of pro-Moscow rebels.
Putin has also ramped up rhetoric with western countries, expressing defiance over economic sanctions led by the United States.
“We understand the fatality of an ‘Iron Curtain’ for us,” Putin was quoted as saying. “We will not go down this path in any case and no one will build a wall around us. That is impossible!”
Putin also accused western countries of fueling the Ukraine conflict, and said that they would find another reason to attack Russia if it were not for Ukraine.
“When Russia starts… safeguarding people and its interests, it immediately becomes bad (in the view of the West),” he said. “You think it’s over our position over east Ukraine or Crimea? Absolutely not! If it wasn’t for that, they would have found a different reason. It has always been like that.”
Despite Vladimir Putin’s assurances that Russia does not want conflict, some of Russia’s Baltic neighbors have said they are preparing for the possibility of World War 3 being sparked.