As the war between Russia and Ukraine officially turns a year old today, a popular question among many is whether we are witnessing the start of World War III. After all, it has already become “the biggest ground war in Europe since World War II” and shows few signs of slowing down any time soon.
In his address to the nation earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that his government would place a greater emphasis on nuclear testing and development in response to western involvement in the war. To that end, Putin claimed that the country was preparing to deploy its Sarmat silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles sometime this year.
Nicknamed “Satan 2,” each of these missiles reportedly has the capacity to launch at least ten nuclear warheads at different targets. It’s believed that Russia tested the missile earlier this month and that the test failed, though their defense ministry has not commented on the veracity of the report.
However, Putin is not the only one who seems invested in continuing the conflict.
On Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that “we will stand with Ukraine in its fight—for as long as it takes,” promising an additional $10 billion in economic support to the embattled nation over the coming months.
In that same address, she warned countries like China against helping Russia bear the burden of western sanctions. Several Chinese companies have already been hit with sanctions of their own for offering such aid, though most agree that they have yet to send lethal aid in the form of weapons or munitions.
Such help might not be too far away, though, if the present course of events continues.
Is China helping Russia?
While China marked the one-year anniversary of the war by calling for a cease-fire and proposing a twelve-point plan for peace, they did so amidst joint military exercises with Russia and South Africa.
As part of those exercises, the Russians sent a frigate equipped with hypersonic missiles—bombs that travel too fast to be shot down by most air defense systems—and there have been mixed reports on whether they plan to test them during the operations. However, they do not have to launch the missiles to remind the world—and the West in particular—that they could do so.
Given that the warship in question docked with the letters “Z” and “V” painted on its blackened smokestack—both of which are symbols associated with the war in Ukraine—there seems little doubt that the show of force was intended more for nations not taking part in the exercises than for those that are.
Given what’s currently going on in Iran, however, Putin may find that his target audience has more pressing concerns to worry about at the moment.
“We’ve waited very long”
Earlier this week, Bloomberg News reported that international atomic monitors in Iran detected uranium enriched to 84 percent purity. Considering that uranium is classified as weapons grade at 90 percent and previous reports—including those from the Iranian government—claimed that their centrifuges were designed to stop at a figure closer to 60 percent, this development could indicate a dramatic shift in their capacities as well as their intent.
A report last month indicated that Iran already has enough “highly enriched uranium to build ‘several’ nuclear weapons if it chooses.” Nonproliferation experts have also warned that even 60 percent enrichment “has no civilian use for Tehran,” casting further doubt on the country’s stated purpose for the uranium.
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly preparing to attack Iran’s nuclear installations in the near future.
But it is rare that Israel would telegraph such a strike. It’s widely believed that they have carried out similar attacks in the past, but they have never admitted it publicly. As such, many assume the leaked information is Netanyahu’s attempt to convince his country’s Western allies to intercede before any such attack would prove necessary.
The desire to have others step in, however, should not be mistaken for an unwillingness to act if Israel’s allies do not. Regardless of whether Iran is really on the verge of becoming a nuclear power, Israel seems done waiting for that eventuality to occur.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu cautioned that “The only thing that has ever stopped rogue nations from developing nuclear weapons is a credible military threat or a credible military action. . . . The longer you wait, the harder that becomes. We’ve waited very long.”
Is World War III starting?
So, going back to our initial question, will World War III start in Ukraine?
It’s impossible to be sure but the odds seem against it.
In many ways, China benefits more by prolonging the war than they do by expediting its end. And Iran seems content to continue selling drones and other munitions for the Russians to use in their attacks.
However, that doesn’t mean that what’s currently going on in Ukraine can’t play a part in bringing about a more global conflict.
The truth is people are wary of what’s unfolding around the world for good reason. Alliances are beginning to take shape in ways that could easily escalate a regional conflict into a world war in any number of arenas. After all, few thought the assassination of an out-of-favor prince could have led to the first World War, but that didn’t stop roughly 20 million people from dying over the course of four years of brutal combat.
And if it happens again, America may not like where it’s standing when the fighting starts.
Our spiritual battle
Ultimately, there’s little you or I can do to prevent the kinds of global conflicts that appear to be on the horizon. But there is an important lesson we can learn from them that makes a profound difference in our ability to navigate the trials and temptations that threaten to draw us away from God.
So much of the world’s attention is currently focused on the war between Russia and Ukraine that other—potentially more dangerous—threats are allowed to persist relatively unchecked. We make the same mistake in our own lives when we become so fixated on where we expect Satan to hit us that we blind ourselves to the other areas where we are vulnerable.
Our Enemy tends not to care where he attacks so long as the attack proves effective. As such, it is often the parts of our lives to which we give little thought that prove to be the most fertile ground for temptation to take root.
So take a few minutes right now to ask the Lord to show you any areas of your life where Satan may be at work in the shadows. Ask him to show you where you are most vulnerable and keep an open mind about where those areas might be.
All of us have them. The only question is whether they’ll be used by God to strengthen our walk with him or by the Enemy to drive us further away.
Which will you choose today?