Five reasons why Russia won’t start World War III
The recent events in Eastern Europe involving Russia and Ukraine have spawned, at their most extreme, apocalyptic claims. Here are five reasons why Russia won’t start World War III, or any other war for that matter:
1. The world is MAD. The end of World War II ushered the world into a precarious atomic age that characterized the international atmosphere during the Cold War. Luckily, the Cold War never escalated to nuclear war. Why? Because of mutually assured destruction (or MAD). Russia knows that if it pushes that big red button, we have our own even bigger, redder button to push in retaliation. The odds of a nuclear war with Russia are extremely unlikely.
2. The impact of economic sanctions on the Russian economy is far too crippling for Russia to fund a war. As a part of a globalized world, economic sanctions are more than mere slaps on the wrist. Already the sanctions imposed on Russia have begun to take their toll. The West has yet to attack Russia’s strongest economic assets, but the declining strength of the Russian economy puts Putin far from a position to wage a world war.
3. Putin’s actions demonstrate his longing for Russia’s glory days before the fall of the Soviet Union. His annexation of Crimea is more out of fear than strength. Putin feels threatened by Russia’s changing role in world affairs and is using Crimea to tell the world that Russia still matters.
4. Russia is already seen as the “big bad wolf” of Europe. Though Putin may have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his involvement in the Syrian chemical weapons deal, Russia’s popularity among many Western countries is not very high. The recent suspension of Russia from the G8 group is a symbolic action that demonstrates that Russia will have to face a united front of world powers if it chooses to start a war.
5. There is just too much at stake. War between Ukraine and Russia is one thing; Russia’s military is large enough and strong enough to easily defeat Ukraine. However, if Russia decides to take further aggressive action, it must also contend with surrounding European Union member nations and their potential involvement in the war. Moreover, Russia’s involvement in other international affairs will be affected. For example, the ongoing effort to normalize relations between Iran and the rest of the world will be jeopardized, considering Russia is involved in those efforts. Crimea may have symbolic meaning close to the hearts of Russians, but it isn’t worth risking the domino effect of events that can potentially occur.
So, those of you who feel abnormally unsettled by the recent turn of events can rest easy. While Russia’s actions can’t be brushed aside and should be taken seriously, the chances of this confrontation escalating to a great war are slim — assuming these countries act rationally.
Maral Margossian is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.