A third of Germans fear that tensions between the Kremlin and the West could rapidly escalate into a full-blown conflict, a new survey reveals.
The Forsa survey of the German attitude toward the potential for conflict between NATO and Russia revealed that a third of Germans fear a new war is on the horizon.
The issue is particularly prominent with supporters of the anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party where some 63 per cent express concern of a war between Russia and the West, reports Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Though only a third of Germans view Russian tanks crossing European borders as a possibility, more than half viewed the continued strained relations between NATO and the Kremlin as getting worse. Forty-one per cent say that the relations between the two nuclear powers are “bad” and a mere six per cent feel that relations are good or improving.
The relationship between NATO countries and Russia has been strained since the annexation of Crimea in the wake of the Ukrainian Maidan revolt which overthrew the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. The subsequent separatist war in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass has led to ever increasing tensions between the two powers.
The German government is committed to ending the civil war in the Ukraine, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has held repeated talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue.
The majority of Germans support the talks with 84 per cent of those surveyed wanting the Chancellor to continue dialogue with Mr. Putin. While 14 per cent see the talks as a fruitless endeavour, even 87 per cent of AfD supporters are hopeful that talks will lead to a resolution.
There have been several alarming developments in recent months that have pushed tensions even further. Russia has placed strategic missile systems in its Kaliningrad territory, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania. The medium range missiles, which could be fitted with nuclear warheads, have a range of 400km striking distance to several NATO members.
The war in Syria, and Russia’s support for President Bashar al-Assad, has also brought conflict with the West. During the past week, Russias deployed their only aircraft carrier along with a supporting fleet to target of Tarsus in Syria.
Tensions escalated further on Wednesday when NATO pressured Spain not to allow the refueling of the carrier group. Russia then proceeded to withdraw their request.
The continued anti-Russian rhetoric from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has also fuelled speculation of future conflict.
Mrs. Clinton and her campaign have repeatedly blamed Russia for various email leaks released by Wikileaks and others. In a speech, Ms. Clinton went so far as to accuse Mr. Putin of being the “mastermind” behind the rise in populist movements across the U.S. and Europe.