World War 3 could be triggered in four weeks in Ukraine, a top Russian military analyst has warned.
The terrifying alert has come after footage was widely shared on social media showing suspected large scale Russian military movements in regions close to rebel-held eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea.
Four Ukrainian soldiers also died in separatist shelling on 26 March near Shuma, a village in the Donetsk region.
With tension sharply rising, Pavel Felgenhauer, who has written several books about Russia’s political and military leadership, said it now requires a “psychoanalyst” to determine the north Asian nation’s intentions in Ukraine but warned events could see “war in a month”.
The West has expressed alarm about Moscow’s movement of troops and forces, and the analyst says they are right to be concerned as unverified new footage appears to show military movements in Russia’s Voronezh, Rostov and Krasnodar regions, along with key railway routes.
Footage of tanks and armoured vehicles are spreading on the web in Russia and Ukraine.
“The crisis has the potential to escalate into a pan-European war, if not even a world one,” Felgenhauer warned starkly in an interview with Rosbalt news outlet in Russia.
“But for now, potential. Will it happen or not?
“Let’s wait and see. In the West, they don’t know what to do about it.”
Asked why Russia may be pushing for a conflict now, he replied: “Address this question to a psychoanalyst. Do I need to explain?
“The facts are there, everything is already happening.”
He claimed all the conditions could be in place by early May when Russia will hold a major Red Square parade to mark the anniversary of victory in World War Two, and he suspects a “decision has been made already”.
He added: “The threats are growing, and rapidly. Much is not discussed in the media, but we are seeing very bad signs.”
In the third week of March, three large Russian Baltic Fleet landing ships passed south through the English Channel, accompanied by a corvette, he said.
“There will be ten such combat units in total, plus small airborne troops,” he said.
“You can collect up to two divisions, taking into account the air force.”
Russia could be planning a “Normandy-style landing” between Odessa and Mykolaiv, he claimed.
Felgenhauer predicted that the West’s expected reactions to such moves were “unclear”.
“Some (in the West) say that the Russians should not be provoked, and military intervention is too risky.
“Others, on the contrary, are in favour of unification (of Russia and Ukraine)and open confrontation, because then it will be possible to bargain with Russia.”
A Nato official told Reuters news agency this week that Russia was undermining efforts to reduce tensions in eastern Ukraine and Nato ambassadors had met on Thursday to discuss the situation.
The official said: “Allies share their concerns about Russia’s recent large-scale military activities in and around Ukraine.”
Earlier this week US President Joe Biden also warned Russia it will give Ukraine its “unwavering support” if a WW3 does kick off.