World War III: origins, short history, possible outcomes

Every generation has its own war. That’s what my granddad used to say. Before 2014 it seemed like a rather pessimistic thing to say but sadly he turned out to be true.

What happens now is World War III even if formally only three countries are “directly” involved—the rest of the world is fighting a proxy war (somewhat like Spanish Civil War was an excuse for certain countries to exercise their troops and test their weapons before WWII officially started).

This is yet another post on the topic I’m not so eager to discuss but the one I can’t stay silent about either. So here are my views on how and why it started, how it went and how it might end for the whole world.

WWIII origins

Usually it’s hard to pinpoint all reasons behind a large war but usually there are some large tendencies making a war possible (usually it’s some ideas, state of the countries and such) and actual trigger that gives a pretext to start it.

For instance, World War I happened because there were large empires not satisfied with their state (not enough territory, powerful neighbours not allowing to grab more territory and so on) but the actual trigger was Black Hand—a Serbian terrorist organisation responsible for a coup in Serbia and the assassination of the archduke Franz Ferdinand (so the war started because Serbia refused to let a proper investigation to be conducted; I’m pretty sure that if they did the war would start regardless but maybe a bit later).

World War II happened because of the resentment in at least two ex-empires (German and russian) let alone several existing empires still striving for more power and control (like Japan). Yet I’d rather name Turkey as the trigger: it demonstrated the whole world that you can commit genocide unpunished (and a certain Austrian guy has learned from that). And we should not forget the role of macrons of their time who pressured Czechoslovakia to cede Sudety in order to save the same Austrian face.

World War III happens because of the resentment in an ex-empire and because other non-democratic country also wants to bring back parts that never belonged to it and take more power and control over the world from the decaying United States and Europe. And in this case it was triggered by three factors: one mad russian dictator, one People’s Republic of China that encouraged and supported him (plus demonstrated that if you deliver cheap goods you can get away with a genocide) and macrons of our time who decided to pretend that nothing has happened in 2008 and hardly anything important has happened in 2014.

An abridged history of war up till now

Essentially the war started in 2014 triggered by political instability in Ukraine (caused by the decision of then acting president to join russian economic union instead of European one—because russia gave him bribes while EU didn’t). As the result Crimea was taken by russian troops that were secretly accumulated there (and for a while russia denied their presence during the events) and Donetsk and Lughansk region were half-captured by bands of local and russian criminals under informal control of russian authorities. And when Ukrainian forces started to push those people away, destroying their weapons (“you can buy those in any shop”), russian forces that had “definitely” nothing to do with the situation (if you don’t count sending “volunteers” and weaponry) had attacked Ukrainian army across the border (Ilovaisk is the best-known example but not the only one). Yet after some time the situation came to a stalemate: Ukrainians had made a fortified line after which they could not pass (both for the lack of weaponry and because unlike russia Ukraine values its people lives). And it remained like this until 2022…

In late 2021 there were rumours going about russia going to occupy Ukraine but nobody could tell for sure if it’ll happen and when. Personally I saw russian military exercises and their usual way of bargaining for something and started to worry only when they officially claimed they’re pulling those forces back (it’s the same principle as with the lawyers—you can recognize that they’re lying by their mouth being open). But nobody had predicted what had really happened.

On February 24th russia had started the next phase of war exactly the same way as German invasion of Soviet Union in 1941—in early morning, without a warning, by bombing cities. The invaders quickly occupied a significant part of Ukraine, both Northern and Southern parts (but not so much success in the East because it was the expected direction and there’re good fortifications there). Fun fact: captured documents show that they planned to start operation couple of days earlier, during the Winter Olympics in China but unlike 2014 they’ve decided to wait until it’s over (and China has nothing to do with it at all, right?).

After the initial couple days of panic Ukraine started to show resistance and the invasion was halted. Since russia has amassed significant forces it was hard to defeat them, but Ukraine has two good allies that helped it: russian incompetence and russian corruption. Because of those two factors russian army had a lot of barely functioning vehicles that broke down before arriving anywhere, and that’s why they moved in columns using roads—which made it much easier to block them and destroy. In those days about a thousand of russian soldiers was killed every day compared to measly 100-150 soldiers killed daily now. And before you say it’s not humane to wish for their deaths, remember that those “people” shot at working nuclear power plants, killed fleeing unarmed civilians and Bucha was not the worst example of what they did in the occupied towns at that time. You really need to work hard to lose the title of human being and they worked hard on that indeed.

Then, when they realized their plan has essentially failed, they withdrew most of the forces to concentrate them in one place in order to have at least some victories (just look how long it took them to overtake Mariupol and Azovstal). They called it “a gesture of good will” like they had anything good in them (also see above how to spot that they’re lying). At least this allowed Ukrainian forces to free Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy regions and part of Kharkiv region.

So the invaders concentrated their efforts on conquering the remaining parts of Lughansk and Donetsk regions. They tried to cut off the region by crossing the Siversky Donets river near Bilohorivka and failed spectacularly. They tried to capture Sieverodonetsk and it took them over six weeks while they suffered heavy losses and it allowed Ukrainian forces to perform counteroffensive in the direction of Kherson.

What’s next?

It is hard to predict how long and how intensive it will go. Most likely scenario IMO is that it will keep going the same as it does now—Ukrainians slowly reclaiming their territory while russia wastes its forces trying to achieve some non-military goal and trying to kill as much of Ukrainians as possible with its missiles—until one day it ends suddenly for some internal russian reason (probably a lack of something like missiles or vehicles).

In Ukraine most people don’t doubt the war will end by Ukraine reclaiming all of its territories but nobody know when it will happen. Unlike russia in Ukraine president is elected and has to listen to the will of people, the officials said it before that if they’d decide to stop the war before its logical conclusion then people won’t understand that and keep fighting anyway.

Characteristics of the war

It can be called a war mostly because there are military forces involved and war crimes are committed. russia refuses to call it war (they have special legislation for people who “defame the russian armed forces” so saying or even not saying anything can give you prison time). In theory after first two world wars it was decided that war should be conducted in civilised manner: you do not target civilians, you do not use certain kinds of weapons and other things mentioned in the Geneva Conventions. And there you have a country that tries hard to violate every article of those and other conventions. Using forbidden weapons like anti-personnel landmines, cassette bombs and phosphor bombs? Check. Deliberately targeting civilians? Check. Deporting civilians, forced labour, keeping them as hostages? All check. The worst thing is that it’s not some atrocity committed by a random band, it’s done systematically and by the official orders. russia is committing genocide of the Ukrainian people and looting the Ukraine, it’s war only by a formal definition.

But what makes it a world war instead of a local conflict? Despite formally having just one participant (russia performing its “special operation”), there are significantly more countries involved:

  • Ukraine—even if russia does not really believe there’s such country;
  • belarus—a semi-involuntary ally of russia that provides its bases for russian troops and places to launch russian missiles at Ukraine;
  • Türkiye—it controls the entry to the Black Sea and pursues its own interests even if it does not fight itself;
  • Syria—both an ally and a burden. Russia tried to recruit people there to fight for them and had to withdraw some troops stationed there (to support local dictator). Türkiye was so amused that it forbade russian military planes to fly through its airspace to Syria;
  • People’s Republic of China—while pretending to be neutral it supported its fellow dictator. I heard rumours that it even made clones of Soviet equipment which russia could use and pretend it’s from old reserves but I’ve seen no confirmation of that. Recently it seems to reduce support though;
  • European Union—some countries provided substantial support (military equipment and even bases) for Ukraine, some countries are corrupted by cheap russian gas and try to do nothing that angers it. And there’s Hungary which of course supports its fellow dictator;
  • the UK and the USA—provide substantial military aid that helps destroying russian invaders.

Additionally since the way the wars are fought has changed, cutting off access to the technologies and finances is a very important part of it since the best specimens of russian technology are made using Western parts and technologies.

And I think it’s worth expanding my thought about two main Ukrainian allies. russia is essentially a state run by criminals using criminal approaches. So everybody with a bit of power uses it to extort money in some way—steal money on governmental projects, steal companies producing something valuable, becoming an unnecessary middle man, or simply taking “protection” money from businessmen. Usually it’s organised as a system where you have to share with higher-ups and honest people are expunged. This way stealing becomes a norm and nobody sees anything wrong with it (but it’s easy to get rid of a person later if required). Similarly if you’re loyal to your higher-ups you won’t be punished for lying to other people (or if it makes it easier to steal and you don’t forget their share you can lie to the higher-ups as well).

In result everything works ineffectively and the only visible outcome of “perspective” military programs is usually some villas on remote tropical islands. That is why a lot of their tanks and other vehicles could not reach the destination—they broke down on the way there or were inoperable right from the start (either being used for spare parts or unmaintained for a long time). That’s why their super-advanced laser weapons announced a month ago have no following mentions. That’s why their super-advanced passenger planes still don’t have domestic engines. Essentially all the stuff they’re really using was either made in the USSR or is a modernisation of that Soviet stuff.

There’s a downside though. It’s claimed the second phase of war started in 2022 because their minister of “defence” and his people got under investigation for embezzling of extraordinary scale (we’re talking about billions or even tens of billions USD) so he urged the dictator to start a war as an attempt for both delaying the investigation and writing off stolen money as used for e.g. munition that was shot in full during the conflict. During Chechen war it was common to give money for rebuilding something e.g. a hospital or a school, reporting that it was blown up during fighting insurgents and ask for more money to rebuild it again (actual rebuilding is not necessary).

Equally they don’t care what their missiles hit, you can be a Texas sharpshooter and claim that whatever you hit was a legitimate military goal or a hide-out of Ukrainian forces (because a mall full of civilians in Kremenchuk hundreds of kilometres from any front line is definitely one of those).

What will be the aftermath?

On 24th of February I said “welcome to the new world” in one IRC channel and indeed the world has changed. One country demonstrated that it does not consider itself bound by any rules, another country demonstrated that it’s not as weak as others believed it was, NATO demonstrated that it failed its mission of protecting democracy in Europe (there was a joke that if russia would invade Estonia then NATO would react in minutes and revoke Estonian membership; the fact that Türkiye is a dictatorship yet still a member of NATO blocking Finland and Sweden from joining is not very reassuring either). Europe demonstrated that it’s mostly spineless and full of corrupt politicians (just look at Gazprom Schröder, his party and the decisions they’ve made throughout these years; essentially it began to change only when russia started to cut down gas for Germany). PRC tried not to demonstrate that it sees it as a model of what happens if it tries to conquer Republic of China.

So what I expect from all of this:

  • Ukraine wins this war;
  • Ukraine will eventually become a member of the European Union;
  • there will be changes and shifts of power in the EU as the consequence of the current actions (maybe SPD will lose its position, maybe unanimous decisions won’t be needed because appeasing Hungary is humiliating and there’s a faint hope that the politicians who enabled russia will be tried for corruption and state treason);
  • the same applies to NATO;
  • Winnie the Xi will either have to rethink the invasion of Taiwan or rush it or get eaten alive by other party members;
  • various Asian countries (those ending with -stan) will fall from russian sphere of influence and come under Chinese and Turkish influence (some like Kazakhstan has done that already);
  • Armenia might get it the worst as russia won’t be able to defend it and Türkiye and Azerbaijan don’t like its existence at all so it’ll be worse for them than in 2020. Asking for russian protection was a worse decision than plans for urban development of Spitak;
  • as for russia, I see three possible outcomes:
    • nuclear suicide. They’ve been talking so long about nuking other countries that they might finally believe in their lies and attempt to do that. For the two reasons mentioned above it’s not likely most of them would work but it should be enough to have a reason to retaliate and put an end to that shame of a country. Or they might apply their usual strategy and attack some NATO/EU country to divert attention from their current war—but looks like everybody is fed up with them already and the outcome will be the same;
    • terrorist country. They might withdraw the remaining pieces of their troops and declare victory (anybody who doubts it will be prosecuted). The rest of the world will treat them as DPRK or Iran—a terrorist state that they don’t want to deal with (and for China it’s a resource colony). Considering the history of that country I don’t expect it to improve and get accepted back in the following decades at least (maybe ever). Israel demonstrates how to deal with such neighbours though;
    • the best scenario for everybody. The “federation” dissolves creating many independent states. Some of them may turn into shitholes, others may finally get a chance to develop. Currently everything is done through Moscow and both money and power are concentrated there. With many independent states people might finally be able to elect their own leaders (in some regions at least) and develop it according to their own wishes. And those states will pose less threat to the rest of the world too (the question of nukes can be resolved since there won’t be russia to sign a new Budapest memorandum in that case).

P.S. I write this post as russia increased the number of missiles it fires daily. Yet somehow it feels like an agony when a mad führer orders strikes to have at least some semblance of victory. Ukraine will survive, as for russia—one wise guy said that when they say “but you’ll have to deal with us when it’s all over” the only proper answer is “why do you think you’ll be there to deal with?”. russia has done enough to sever any ties with it so I hope Ukraine will get reparations from it in one way or another and we will forget about its existence. And it won’t be too soon!

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