The potential for a World War 3 is almost always present, but former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that the current situation in Ukraine could spark it sooner rather than later.
Russia and most European countries are facing off over Ukraine, with tensions growing steadily.
The situation is one that the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize winner sees as potentially devolving into war, which could spark something even worse.
“A war of this kind would unavoidably lead to a nuclear war,” Gorbachev, 83, told Der Spiegel magazine.
“We won’t survive the coming years if someone loses their nerve in this overheated situation,. This is not something I’m saying thoughtlessly. I am extremely concerned.”
The situation started last year after pro-Russian separatists, widely believed to be supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin, took over parts of eastern Ukraine, while Russia annexed Crimea.
Gorbachev played a key role in opening the Berlin Wall, which led to Germany’s reunification, and also helped restructure policy that helped end the Cold War. He has been warning about a potential new Cold Way, if tensions aren’t reduced over the Ukraine crisis.
But it appears that tensions just keep increasing, with Putin just before the New Year shifting his country’s military doctrine to a more aggressive stance toward NATO.
“Global developments at present stage are characterized by an increasing global competition, tensions in various interstate and interregional areas,” said the document, signed by Putin on Dec. 26, reported Defense News.
“There are many regional conflicts which remain unresolved. There is a tendency to force their resolution, including those which are in the regions bordering the Russian Federation. The existing architecture of the international security system does not provide an equal level of security to all states.”
The document names the expansion of NATO near Russia as a principal threat. Part of the document enables Russia to set up missile defense systems with allies, to counteract NATO’s efforts to extend such systems across Europe.
In other potential World War 3 news, a military source told South Korea’s Joongang Daily that a North Korean official requested fighter jets from Putin in a meeting in late 2014. Before the source’s information, little was known about the meeting, in which the senior North Korean official delivered a letter from the country’s leader Kim Jong-un to Putin.
“The North produces many weapons systems domestically, but it appears to have sought Russia’s help because building fighter jets requires more complex technologies,” said the official. “But because of international sanctions imposed on the North, Russia won’t likely sell it readily.”
Intelligence officials in the South believe it’s part of the North’s recently created war plan, which is designed to quickly invade the South within a week using weapons including nuclear ones.