World War III Has Likely Begun

Analysts say Putin is emboldened while NATO refuses to fight
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2022 11:46 AM CST
World War III Began a Few Years Ago
Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces members hold flowers during the wedding ceremony for members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces Lesia Ivashchenko and Valerii Fylymonov, at a checkpoint in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, March 6, 2022.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

(Newser) – Lawmakers and media outlets are warning that the war in Ukraine could trigger World War III, but some say it has already started—perhaps even years ago. Among them is billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who argued Saturday on Twitter that "WWIII has likely started already" while NATO members, fearful of Vladimir Putin, let Ukrainians do the fighting. "We are in the early innings of Putin's global aspirations," Ackerman added, per CNBC. "With each 'victory,' he is emboldened to take more. He is testing us, and we are failing the test each time." Ackerman still sees room for stricter sanctions and tougher negotiations to work, especially if China gets involved, but "time is running short." Among other voices:

  • Look at history: "We're already in it," said Russia expert Fiona Hill of World War III. She recently told Politico that "we keep thinking of World War I, World War II as these huge great big set pieces, but World War II was a consequence of World War I," much like the Russia-Ukraine war grew out of changes in Russia in the twentieth century. "We are already in a hot war over Ukraine, which started in 2014. People shouldn't delude themselves into thinking that we're just on the brink of something. We've been well and truly in it for quite a long period of time."
  • 'America's battle, too': "Ukrainians are fighting for us, for the United States, for Europe, for you, for me," writes columnist Trudy Rubin in the Philadelphia Inquirer under the headline "World War III has already started in Ukraine." She understands NATO's desire to avoid a hot war, but urges President Biden to consider options including a no-fly zone to protect Ukrainians from air assaults. "And—crucially—GOP leaders must finally chastise those in its ranks, including Donald Trump and Fox News' Tucker Carlson, who praised Putin after this war began. They are enabling a war criminal, who feeds off the US political divisions they sow."

  • 'I will be very blunt': "We do feel supported and we are grateful for all the help that we are getting," Ukrainian parliament member Kira Rudik said Friday on MSNBC, adding that "the next step that we see is a no-fly zone over Ukraine. And I know that everybody is saying no, no, no, the Third World War will start. I will be very blunt with you: It has already started, because the attack on a nuclear plant … affects everybody." Disaster at the Zaporizhzhya facility was narrowly averted, but Rudik noted that "radiation doesn't really care what passport you're holding."
  • Article Five: Analysts warn that fighting in Ukraine could easily spark a wider war. "A dangerous and tragic case would be if Russian forces were to inadvertently, and I want to emphasize inadvertently, launch a missile that landed in a bordering NATO country, such as Poland," Glennys Young, Russian expert and chair of the University of Washington history department, told Fortune. "If this were perceived by NATO commanders as an attack, and hopefully it wouldn't, this would trigger the provisions of the NATO alliance's Article Five."

Meanwhile Republican senators Joni Ernst and Marco Rubio are warning that a no-fly zone over Ukraine would indeed trigger world war. "It would be World War III," Ernst said on Fox News Sunday, per Newsweek. "And I don't think that's in the best interest of NATO, our partners and allies and friends." (See why Putin said NATO has pretty much declared war already.)
(Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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