A full-on World War 3 alert may be unlikely around the globe for the time being, but in smaller nations bordering Russia, some citizens are actively preparing for the possibility, according to The New York Times.
A recent article played into fears that a third world war could be brewing over an increasingly antagonistic relationship between Russia and the United States. Estonia, which gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, has been running drills every weekend with the 25,400 volunteers that make up its domestic Defense League (EDL). The group began to solidify after Russia intervened in Ukraine in 2014.
While the small nation of Estonia is unlikely to be able to defend itself alone in a war with Russia, the government says it is taking lessons from other insurgency groups in conflicts around the world — namely Iraq and Afghanistan. Specifically, it says citizens are learning how to construct improvised explosive devices or I.E.D.s. Additionally, the Estonian government has asked citizens to stock up on arms at home, many of which are being supplied by the government themselves, said EDL commander Brig. Gen. Meelis Kiili.
“The best deterrent is not only armed soldiers, but armed citizens, too… The guerrilla activity should start on occupied territory straight after the invasion. If you want to defend your country, we train you and provide conditions to do it in the best possible way.”
— NYT Photo (@nytimesphoto) November 1, 2016
Some may wonder why Estonia, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is ramping up defenses at all. After all, in the event of World War 3, they would likely be able to count on the aid of other member countries. Many Estonians, however, are unconvinced that such assistance is a sure thing. Yet NATO nations have stepped up military representation in many of the areas bordering Russia, including Estonia, reported the Inquisitr. Last week, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said that such measures were necessary given the actions of Russia in the past.
“Russia has been willing to use military force against neighbors. We have seen that in Georgia and we have seen it in Ukraine with the illegal annexation of Crimea and the continued destabilization of Eastern Ukraine. So, therefore, NATO has to respond.”
Whether the threat of World War 3 with Russia is conspiracy or reality has been difficult to pin down. Russia Today, considered by critics to be a government mouthpiece of the Kremlin, has published articles that both attempt to dispel the probability of an impending conflict, as well as others that point to specific policies proposed by Hillary Clinton that could easily lead to its outbreak. Gerald Horne, the history chair at the University of Houston, told RT that Clinton’s no-fly zone could be one such inciting incident.
“When Secretary Clinton talks about establishing a no-fly zone in Syria, she is basically saying that if she’s sworn in to the highest office in the land, in January 2017, she will be challenging Russian jets over Syria. This is a direct provocation. It could easily devolve into World War 3. I’m very much concerned about the hawkish language coming out of Washington that in a very cavalier fashion is talking about confronting and challenging Moscow, a major nuclear power.”
While few mainstream media outlets have used the term World War 3, several major sources have emphasized just how bad current relations are between Moscow and Washington. The New York Times’ Somini Sengupta, who has covered the United Nations Security Council for the past three years, recently wrote that she had never seen the situation escalate to its current state.
Vitaly I. Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the council since 2006, told NYT that they are the most tenuous bilateral relations since the Yom Kippur War — a conflict where three belligerents, consisting of Syria and Egypt against Israel, were backed by Russia and the United States, respectively. It was the closest the two nations had been pushed to battle since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
“The general situation is pretty bad: I think the tensions are probably the worst since 1973.”
While some have claimed that Russia is highlighting the possibility of the outbreak of a world war in order to meddle in the United States elections, Churkin dismissed these as “conspiracy theories,” saying that the U.S. had no proof of a Russian cyber attack. Furthermore, he chastised the U.S. for any push for a no-fly zone, noting that no such thing has been implemented in the nearby war in Yemen — where the United States is selling billions of dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia despite repeated reports of human rights abuses, reported the Intercept.
Of course, much of this drama could dissipate when the U.S. presidential elections finally end next week. Many analysts still maintain that Putin’s bellicose language has been employed with the intention of scaring voters into voting against Clinton. The Democratic nominee claims that Russia has been actively working to undermine her campaign with hacks that have revealed embarrassing information to the public through WikiLeaks.
Last week, Donald Trump also stated that he believes his opponent’s policies in Syria should put Americans on alert for World War 3.
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