Explainer: Could Trump Prevent World War III?
By Iyan Velji, Contributor
It has been nearly two years since Russia invaded Ukraine. Since that day on Feb. 24, 2022, it’s estimated around 260,000 soldiers have died on both sides of the conflict and hundreds of thousands more have been injured.
Tension began in 2014 when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea from Ukraine, and ramped up again when the newly elected Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, asked United States president Joe Biden to let the country join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in early 2021.
Now, behind the scenes, Russian president Vladimir Putin has been allying himself with leaders like Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko, China’s Xi Jin Ping, Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi, and even North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who recently took an armored train to meet Putin for weapons talks.
The west, on the other hand, has been strengthening its NATO alliances, adding new member Finland, and contemplating the accession of Georgia, Sweden, and Ukraine itself.
More recently, Russia has threatened to start utilizing its massive nuclear arsenal against the west.
As Russian security council deputy chairman, Dmitry Medvedev stated, “if the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without [a] doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people.”
This does not seem to be an empty threat as Putin has already started moving some of Russia’s short-range nuclear weapons to Belarus and is readying an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of carrying nuclear warheads known as Sarmat, National Post reports. Actions like these have led to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, warning that the risk of nuclear weapons being used in the conflict is currently at its highest since the Cold War.
The consequences of a full-scale nuclear war between NATO and Russia would be disastrous for the world. According to nuclear scientists, even a small nuclear conflict could result in a nuclear winter spanning decades. Megatons of black carbon would enter the Earth’s atmosphere, agricultural production would plummet, and up to two billion people could starve to death, atmospheric and environmental scientists estimate.
So, how do we end this escalating conflict before things spiral out of control? How do we prevent a potential World War III?
According to the Biden administration, the answer seems to be, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken puts it, “to keep tilting the battlefield in Ukraine’s favor.” Biden has attempted to achieve this through military drawdowns to Ukraine, sending the country over $75 billion USD in aid including tanks, artillery, missiles, fighter jets, and even cluster bombs, which are currently banned in Canada.
Throughout the summer and into the fall, Ukraine has been using this military aid to launch a counter-offensive which has resulted in tens of thousands of casualties on both sides and may soon come to a halt due to cold weather, The Telegraph reports.
Despite the Biden administration’s support, the public questions if there is an alternative to produce an end to the war.
The answer may lie in an unlikely place—former president Donald Trump, who has publicly promised that he will end the Ukraine-Russia conflict in just a single day.
How would Trump fulfill this bold claim? He has stated he would start peace negotiations between Putin and Zelenskyy, leveraging his past relationships with both leaders to get a deal done.
The Washington Post raises skepticism towards Trump’s plan, calling it “nonsensical” and “remarkably simplistic.” Others like Hungarian president Viktor Orban have praised Trump’s proposal, stating it is “the only way out” of the war.
What remains clear is that gaining peace between Russia and Ukraine would be no small task. According to Turkish news company Anadolu Agency, Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, would likely need to refuse to join NATO and may have to give up territory. Russia, on the other hand, would need to assure the West it would respect the sovereignty of Ukraine and would not resume its invasion later on.
It’s important to note Putin has stated he does not reject the idea of peace talks. In addition, it wouldn’t be the first time Trump has made an unlikely deal. During his presidency, he became the first US leader to set foot in North Korea and was able to sign peace agreements between Israel and four countries in the Middle East in what became the Abraham Accords.
So, could Trump prevent World War III? Maybe or maybe not, but one thing is for certain, he is the only former president who has claimed to do so.