Russian leader Vladimir Putin warned that society risks a return to world war if there’s no international effort to ease existing global tensions and imbalances.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s virtual Davos Agenda conference on Jan. 27, he offered a grim prediction and noted that the current era shows parallels to the 1920s and 1930s before the “catastrophic World War II.”
“Nowadays, such a heated conflict is not possible, I hope,” Putin said. “Because it will mean the end of our civilization.
“But I’d like the reiterate that the situation might develop unpredictably and uncontrollably if we sit on our hands doing nothing to avoid it. There’s a possibility that we might experience an actual collapse in global development that might result in a fight of all against all.”
Such a prospect, he said, would result in a “grim dystopia.”
Wealth inequality, political polarization, and international tensions will exacerbate the problem, he said, and on top of that, the pandemic is placing even more strain on society.
“The coronavirus pandemic has become a major challenge to mankind, and it has accelerated structural changes, the preconditions for which were already in place,” he said. “We have every reason to believe that the tensions might be aggravated even further.
“International institutions are weakening, regional conflicts are multiplying, the global security system is degrading.”
He called for an increase in dialogue between different nations and groups to avoid a possible worldwide conflict.
“We need [to] ensure development following a different path—one that is positive, balanced, and constructive,” he said.
Russia currently finds itself amid growing internal tensions after Moscow arrested Putin critic Alexei Navalny after he returned to Russia from Germany.
During the Davos address, Putin seemingly made reference to sanctions and embargoes; several countries have placed sanctions on Russia.
“The use of trade barriers, illegitimate sanctions, restrictions in the financial, technological and information spheres—such a game without rules is dramatically increasing the risks of the unilateral use of military force, which is very dangerous,” Putin said.
Putin also faces an uncertain relationship with U.S. President Joe Biden, whom he spoke with earlier this week.
After their first phone call, Putin formally submitted a bill for the Russian parliament to extend the New START nuclear treaty with the United States by five years, according to Russian media.
“The presidents expressed satisfaction following today’s exchange of diplomatic notes on an agreement to extend the New START Treaty,” Putin’s office announced after his call with Biden, TASS reported.
“International topics included the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, problems of keeping in place the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program, Ukrainian settlement, as well as Russia’s initiative to call a summit of the United Nations Security Council permanent members,” the Kremlin said.