“An audacious display of power” is the least that can be said about the show President Vladimir Putin put on when he stood on a stage in front of a giant screen to unveil the “gems” of modern Russian weaponry.
In his annual address to the Federal Assembly, Putin announced that Russia had started testing the Sarmat missile system which can carry intercontinental ballistic missiles to any part of the world. He also unveiled a supersonic, unmanned nuke-armed submarine. The missiles and the submarine have not been named, and so Putin asked the Russian people to propose names for them. His aim is to obviously involve the Russian people in this warmongering exercise.
Who is Putin aiming these threats at? Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave the answer last Wednesday, while addressing the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
“The presence of ready-for-use US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe is not just a rudiment of the Cold War, but clearly an aggressive stance,” Lavrov said.
Washington’s response to Lavrov came when Pentagon’s chief spokesperson Dana White said: “We're not surprised by the statement. And the American people should rest assured that we are fully prepared,” adding that these Russian “weapons that are discussed have been in development a very long time. So no, our Nuclear Posture Review takes all of this into account.”
Is World War III imminent?
We are already witnessing US - Russia confrontation playing out across various theatres, such as in Syria.
The Cold War did not lead to World War III. It lasted about half a century, since the end of WWII in 1945. It wasn’t an open US-Russia confrontation involving their stockpile of dangerous weapons.
Is a major war imminent? We do not know but at least countries of the Middle East, particularly Syria, are embroiled in a war involving various political players and whose outcome may potentially have catastrophic consequences.
There’s probably no one in Washington or Moscow who appears ‘interested’ in launching a massive war between the two big powers. It is noteworthy how these statements sound as if we have returned to the 1960’s!
There isn’t anyone planning such a war because Russia and the US understand the disastrous consequences of direct military confrontation, which could potentially entail the annihilation of the entire human race or something close to that.
The situation may escalate due to the prevailing tensions. Syria and eastern Europe provide the arenas where the final human showdown might play out.
It’s become normal to hear the world’s two top leaders talk about what we once were scared to discuss.
This article was first published in Arabic.
Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy