With the angry crowd wielding Russian flags, it looks just like a scene from Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. Men in balaclavas storm a local government building and remove the flags from its façade. Except this time, they are the Latvian and EU flags, and the setting is not Ukraine but Latvia’s eastern region of Latgale, near the Russian Border. This is the opening of World War Three: Inside the War Room, which was broadcast on BBC Two tonight. In it, ten political, diplomatic and military figures war-game an imagined scenario in which Russia becomes militarily involved with Latvia and Estonia.
The one-hour programme jumps between fake documentary scenes set in Latvia, and scenes set in the “war room,” where the ten figures debate how to respond to Russia’s hypothetical moves and, ultimately, whether to engage in nuclear warfare. This makes for a charged 59 minutes of midweek television yet, given the current tensions along NATO’s eastern edge, the BBC’s decision to broadcast it is surprising.