The way Moscow has been carrying itself in front of the international audience clearly shows that it is keen on flirting with the idea of a war that most of us really want to avoid. Blame him all you like, but you cannot find fault in U.S. President Barack Obama’s measured policy when it comes to dealing with Vladimir Putin and his idea of how Russia should go about its business in the international arena. Now in his second and last term at the White House, Obama has proven himself as someone not so keen on going head-on with the Russian premier. Some might consider it a weakness on his part, but there is another side to it.
Obama is not an unreasonable man, and if he is doing his best to avoid confronting Putin in an aggressive manner, it is because he does not want anything from his side to lead to a war that all of humanity will pay for.
Chechen union adding to World War 3 potential?
Indeed, the recent presidential celebration in the Chechen capital could bring back memories of the run-up to World War I. Pepper it with Russian airstrikes in Syria, and you get a recipe for disaster which can be eventually named World War 3 – a war that will cost everyone dearly.
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Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongest man in Chechnya, invited friends to Grozny to celebrate his birthday. The most notable people in the birthday bash were Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum and Sergie Aksyonov (leader of Russian-annexed Crimea).
There was a very foreboding message in the way the push of a button sent aloft huge jets of water (they call it the biggest fountain in the world in those parts). Indeed, after some years, we might even be considering it as a moment that led to a disaster the whole world paid for. Scenes of the royal funeral of England’s Edward VII in 1919 come to mind–an end to one era that led to a future with unknown events that would eventually burn Europe to the ground.
Although those scenes at Grozny looked fairly benign in nature, what really worries everyone is that Kadyrov had asked Moscow to allow him to send militias to Syria. The Russian Duma has now acknowledged that “volunteer soldiers” will go to war in Syria. In short, Kadyrov has a great chance to show Putin that he has a 20,000-strong militia that will be wreaking havoc across the Middle East and is available to help Putin further his agenda.
Rather than going around in circles like the Bush administration did ten years or so ago, Kadyrov and his pro-Kremlin messages are simple: “We’re fighting the terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them here.”
What the Russian media says
And it all makes sense when Vladimir Soloviyov of Rossia-1 TV said because of the fact that Syria is just 1,000 kilometers away from the Russian border, the country cannot take any chances with Islamists since the main fear in Russia is that these elements will enter the country once their objectives in Syria are met.
When it comes to the definition of jihad, let alone the concept of Shia versus Sunni and the Alawite regime in Syria, Russians are not very knowledgeable perhaps, but the idea of seeing the nation flex its muscles is something they will always support. That again, has come at a cost. Russian shenanigans have created issues with several countries, and constantly annoying actions that are totally uncalled for will only add to the heat as the cloud of World War 3 looms large. Many people have been critical of NATO’s recent activity near Eastern Europe, but no one can blame them for being angry when Russian airplanes twice violated Turkish airspace, leading the country to threaten action against the Russian Air Force if it enters its airspace the next time.
“Our rules of engagement are clear, whoever it is,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told private broadcaster Haberturk. “Even if a bird violates Turkey’s borders, necessary steps will be taken.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who a few months ago was on good terms with Putin, is also getting very annoyed with his Russian counterpart’s policies and has called the bombing campaign in Syria a “grave mistake.”
Irresponsible state behavior could lead to World War 3
However, it is not as if everyone in Russia is in agreement with the country’s policies. Satirist Victor Shenderovich feels that the Kremlin really wants to be on the news in relation to showing its military might in another country because it helps the public forget about internal issues.
“War in Syria is a perfect picture: explosions, airplanes,” said Shenderovich. “These are very exciting scenes to watch: Our MiG and Su planes bombing everything makes people feel a bit more confident about their attitude to life, so that they do not want to check what they have in the fridge.”
The Russian public in general has always been worried about a potential nuclear conflict with the United States, but the fact is that nobody in their right mind would crave a nuclear disaster. As Ryzhkov puts it, “Russian politicians have a strong inferiority complex up against the United States, which was partly compensated for by the Crimea operation and military exercises with China.”
In short, Russia might not be looking for a Third World War, but the way it is carrying itself could lead to one. This unholy alliance of Iran, Syria, Iraq and Russia is such that it will only bring more misery to the world. Historically, Russia hasn’t been lucky in the Middle East either.
The idea of World War 3 is one that should not be a prospect that worries only the U.S. and the West in general. It is an issue that needs to be understood for what it is, and responsible state behavior requires leaders to try to understand reasons why mistrust, skirmishes and proxies eventually lead to wars that kill hundreds of thousands if not millions.
Recent airstrikes in Russia are aimed at making the ground ready for assaults by Syrian and Iranian troops. However, this technique might backfire, as it could open yet another Pandora’s Box in a region that is already struggling so much to add some sanity to its day-to-day affairs.