WHAT KREMLIN PROPAGANDISTS SAY:
Since the beginning of the full-scale war in Ukraine, Kremlin propagandists have promoted the disinformation narrative that ‘the West's actions will lead to WWIII’.
Two months into the full scale invasion of Ukraine, Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov said that “the danger of a World War III”. His spokeswoman Maria Zakharova doubled down on such a claim: “Is a Third World [War] possible? Perhaps, it is already underway? What form will it take? These are topics that many are discussing.”  Deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council Dmitrii Medvedev used the same narrative in his assessment of NATO Summit 2023: “The completely crazy West could not come up with anything else … In fact, it’s a dead end. World War Three is getting closer.”
The same narrative appears time and time again in the Kremlin’s loyal media.
WHAT ARE THE FACTS:
Russia has been met with intense and effective resistance from Ukrainian armed forces, who have been supported with advanced weaponry provided by Western allies. As a result, Russia has used escalatory threats to provoke fears that the war could spill beyond Ukraine’s borders and even escalate to a full-scale global conflict. This disinformation narrative is little more than sabre-rattling and fear-mongering on Russia’s part. The reality is, that the only actor responsible for escalating the situation in Ukraine is Russia, when they launched an illegal war of aggression against Ukraine. Like many other disinformation narratives, the threat is designed to provoke a strong emotional response, by invoking fears of a global conflict.
Any of the so-called ‘evidence’ that the West is escalating the war, has been willfully misconstrued or de-contextualised by Russian propaganda agents. For example, Finland’s decision to join NATO was driven by the shift in Europe's security environment and a massive surge in public support for membership. Finland had previously remained a partner of NATO, rather than an official member, as part of a ‘friendly arrangement’ with Russia. However, since the conflict began, their entry into NATO has been fast-tracked. Joining NATO ensures that if one member is attacked, all members should come to its defence.
In the case of Zelensky’s apparent calls for attacks, this can be explained by mistranslations of his public statements. Pro-Kremlin propagandists equate Ukraine exercising its right to defend its territory as an escalation, with the liberation of occupied territories such as Crimea and Donetsk treated as attacks on Russian territory. Since the outbreak of the war, the position of Ukraine has been clear: they are only interested in liberating their own territory. Through fabricating threats and weaving lies Kremlin propagandists aim to justify the escalation of Russian attacks.
Military and financial support to Ukraine is not meant for prolonging the war or expanding it to Europe. The general consensus amongst all partners of Ukraine is that all support packages, be it humanitarian, military or other, are meant to help Ukraine to defend itself in a war started by Russia and will be provided “as long as it takes”. Moreover, all aid is being carefully considered by the Western countries, the EU and NATO, which determine how much and what kind of assistance they can provide.  
NATO or separate members of the Alliance do not seek to use nuclear weapons against Russia. Number of nuclear warheads possessed by NATO members has been decreasing for years. Nuclear weapons are a part of NATO’s deterrence and defence policies. As stated in the Strategic Concept 2022, “the fundamental purpose of NATO’s nuclear capability is to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression.” On the contrary, the only one who is rattling their missiles and constantly engaging in nuclear blackmail is the Kremlin (which, as some experts say, is a clear sign of Russia’s declining power in the international arena).
Debunker is a series of disinformation-busting articles from Debunk.org which focus on dispelling the harmful lies and propaganda being pushed by pro-Kremlin sources. Check out the rest of the series at debunk.org/debunker.