Addressing a security forum in Kiev today, where he also identified NATO membership as a national priority, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was cited by the UNIAN news site as not ruling out a "new world war" in the event of what he identified as a full-scale escalation of tensions by Russia.
Asked by a reporter whether he anticipated a Russian attack not only from the Donetsk and Lugansk republics in the Donbass but also from Crimea and Belarus in September – it's not clear from where this intelligence emanated – Zelensky responded in the sort of civics-class textbook manner characteristic of him (and with an eye to the history books) with: "Are we ready? We are, as a whole, a country with a very strong and courageous military."
And though he was forced to concede that Russia had "de-escalated" the situation last month, nevertheless he added, "No one can guarantee anything here, because no one expected such steps from the Russian Federation in 2014, so no one can guarantee anything [now]."
In a confused jumble of an assurance that war with Russia will not occur – at least in September (of all months, unless it's a veiled allusion to Germany's invasion of Poland on the first of that month in 1939) – and the horrors of what would confront the world if it did, he said this:
"Are we ready, is the world ready, is Europe ready for a full-scale war? I think no one is ready. Absolutely. If this happens….I think Russia cannot go for this….I am sure we feel it now – both by the signals that we get and the work that we have done, diplomatically, by the support of Ukraine's independence by Europe and the United States. [Otherwise,] I think it could be a world war."
There is one point of clarity here; Zelensky has just told his NATO sponsors that if they don't support him and his military there may well be a world war. What in the vernacular of salesmen and con artists is known as highballing.
The same approach was attempted today by Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba who, in an interview with the Ukraine 24 channel in which while on the surface seeming to relinquish hope of his nation being granted a NATO Membership Action Program at next month's summit in Brussels, used this ploy to both alert and embarrass the U.S. and the military bloc it dominates:
"Regarding the obstacles, unfortunately, there are still several countries among the allies who are guided by the logic of not provoking Russia and believe that sitting and doing nothing is the best way to keep Russia calm."
As though he were speaking of the 1938 Munich Agreement. Surely Joe Biden and Jens Stoltenberg don't want to enter the shortsighted and shameful ranks of Neville Chamberlain and Édouard Daladier.
The world war allusions, first evoked by Ukraine's first president last month, are multiplying at an alarming rate.
Rick Rozoff is a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. He is the manager of Stop NATO. This originally appeared at Anti-Bellum.