An Escalation of the Russia-Ukraine War Could Endanger Life on Earth

Photo: Leonardo Boff´s website (

Leonardo Boff, renowned Brazilian theologian and philosopher and one of the founders of liberation theology, comments on the war in Ukraine.

We are increasingly hearing about an escalation of the war between Russia and Ukraine, provoked by Putin himself, who finally admitted the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons. These weapons are not very destructive, but the radioactivity emitted could make the region uninhabitable for many years. The main reason for this escalation is that Russia cannot lose the war.

This situation worsened when NATO, under pressure by the USA, extended its offensive from the Atlantic to the Pacific with the accession of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

NATO has shamefully bowed to the imperial will of the USA. It seems to have learned nothing from the two wars in Europe in the 20th century, which cost 100 million lives.

It is now well known that behind the ongoing war in Ukraine lies a conflict between the USA and Russia/China over geopolitical domination of the world. So far, a unipolar world has prevailed with total US dominance.

Our master in geopolitics, Luiz Alberto Moniz Bandeira (1935-2017), in his meticulous book ‘A desordem mundial:o espectro da total dominação’ (Worldwide disorder: the specter of total domination), has clearly highlighted the three fundamental mantras of the Pentagon and North American foreign policy:

  • One World – One Empire (USA)
  • Full Spectrum Dominance: by controlling the entire spectrum of reality, on land, sea and air, with around 800 military bases around the world
  • Destabilisation of all governments of countries that resist or oppose this imperialist strategy, as happened in Honduras, Bolivia and Brazil with the coup against Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and then with the unjust imprisonment of Lula

The USA is not giving up its ambition to become the only world force. The North American empire is in decline, no matter how much it invokes its exceptionalism and its "manifest destiny", according to which the USA is the new people of God who will bring democracy, freedom and rights (always within the capitalist code) to the nations.

Meanwhile, Russia has armed itself with powerful nuclear weapons and impregnable missiles and is vying to be part of the leadership of the globalisation process. China has emerged with new projects such as the ‘Silk Road’ and as an economic power that has already surpassed North America. At the same time, the Global South has emerged, a group of countries known by the acronym BRICS, of which Brazil is a member. In other words, the world is no longer unipolar but multipolar.

This fact exacerbates the arrogance of the neocon supremacists, who claim that it is necessary to continue the war in Ukraine in order to bleed and eventually devastate Russia and neutralise China in order to deal with it later. This would bring us back to the unipolar world.

These are the elements that can lead to a third world war that will be fatal. Pope Francis, in his clear insight, has repeatedly said that we are already in the ‘third world war in pieces’. This is why, in an almost desperate (but still personally hopeful) tone, he says that "we are all in the same boat; either we are all saved or no one is saved" (Fratelli tutti n. 32). We must oppose reason that has become irrational and mad. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has often repeated: "The only alternative is the cooperation of all or collective suicide".

Why has the European West chosen the will to power and not the will to life of pacifists like Albert Schweitzer, Leon Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Luther King Jr and Dom Helder Câmara? Why has Europe, which has produced a great culture and so many geniuses, saints and holy men, chosen this path that could devastate the entire planet to the point of making it uninhabitable? Has it allowed the most dangerous of all archetypes – according to C.G. Jung – that of power, capable of self-destruction, to break in unchecked? Here is a mystery of human history to be unravelled.

After all, it is in this living God and source of life that we place our ultimate hope. This goes beyond the limits of science and instrumental-analytical reason. It is the act of faith, which is also a virtuality present in the global cosmo-genetic process. The alternative to this hope is darkness. But light has more legitimacy than darkness. It is in this light that we believe and hope.