Edward Lucas, a prominent journalist who works for The Economist, has warned the Ukraine crisis may rapidly devolve, creating the conditions for a potential World War III. Lucas is an expert on Russian affairs, serving as The Economist‘s Moscow bureau chief from 1998-2002.
Wednesday in the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail, Lucas wrote, “Deep in the flat and featureless landscape of eastern Ukraine, it is all too possible that the outline of World War III is taking shape.”
Lucas continues, suspicious of a Kremlin-backed campaign to covertly undermine the several institutions within eastern Ukraine, from police stations to the mayor’s office. “Whipped up by the Kremlin propaganda machine and led by Russian military intelligence, armed men are erecting road blocks, storming police stations and ripping down the country’s flag,” he said.
The author reminds us of Russian President (and former KGB agent) Vladimir Putin’s recollection of the collapse of the Soviet Union as a “geopolitical catastrophe.” “Quite simply, he wants it (the Soviet Union) back,” Lucas said.
Lucas carefully documents the Kremlin’s steps: first, taking Crimea; second, launching influence operations in Ukraine’s south and east; and now, massing troops on the Russia-Ukraine border. Today, NATO estimates suggested some 40,000 Russian troops have massed on their border with Ukraine.
The author predicts that if the West fails to act, we will witness the end of NATO and the EU in short time. “Nato and the EU – on current form – will merely appeal for dialogue and threaten sanctions. But nothing will happen. Which means the Baltics will buckle, and Putin will take back lands which he believes are rightly Russia’s. That will be the end of Nato – and the dawn of a terrifying new world in which international rules count for nothing and the strong dominate the weak. Russia – ruthless and greedy – can play divide and rule for decades to come,” he said.
However, an overreaction to Putin’s display of encroachment may end up heightening tensions even further. “If the West does stand up to Russia, Putin will put its nuclear forces on alert, all the while decrying our ‘aggressive behaviour,'” Lucas said.
Click here to read Lucas’s article in The Daily Mail.