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Could the Israel-Hamas and Russia-Ukraine wars escalate into World War III?

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As Russia’s war in Ukraine approaches its two-year mark next month and Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza rages on, a growing crisis in the Red Sea involving the U.S. and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels has many observers and officials concerned about the possibility of a regional war. Regional wars, of course, pose even broader risks. With tensions now flaring in the Middle East and in Europe, can the two crises snowball into one global war—World War III, as some might call it—or are they contained within their respective spheres of influence?  

The view in Europe is still laser-focused on Vladamir Putin’s war in Ukraine, as Russia draws from scarcer military resources to continue waging its war of aggression. “I think that the focus so far is still very much on the challenge closer to home, and supporting Ukraine,” says Mai’a K. Davis Cross, director of Northeastern’s Center for International Affairs and World Cultures and dean’s professor of political science. 

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