Assuming this report can ever be proven true, Vladimir Putin has continued to engage in an even larger than normal dose of saber rattling. Or is it something more? Speaking with the President of Ukraine, Putin allegedly told him that the Bear’s reach is mighty long indeed.

President Vladimir Putin privately threatened to invade Poland, Romania and the Baltic states, according to a record of a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart.

“If I wanted, in two days I could have Russian troops not only in Kiev, but also in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest,” Mr Putin allegedly told President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, reported Süddeustche Zeitung, a German newspaper.

If true, this would be the first time that Mr Putin has threatened to invade Nato or EU members. Any threat to send Russian troops into the capitals of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Romania would cause grave alarm among Western leaders.

That laundry list isn’t a threat of a border skirmish, it’s the launch of a world war. But for all his bluster, it would require us to believe that Putin is well and truly insane, not just crazy like a fox. Russia is strong in media myth and legend these days, and their actions in Ukraine show that they are far from toothless, but the nation is still struggling under crippling economic problems. There remain grave concerns over whether Putin can even keep up the required maintenance – not to mention security – on his arsenal of tactical weapons. It’s difficult to imagine that even Putin believes they have the resources to take on most of the rest of the planet, no matter how much he would like to put on that appearance.

But something on a more limited scale might still be seen as within his grasp. And there are many who think that we should be taking his threats more seriously. One of these is John Hawkins.

This last week saw the continuing invasion of the Ukraine by the Russkies and the world yawned. Did you know both the Ukraine and Russia are now speaking of nuclear war? I’m not so sure it’s just posturing, or that the world should treat it like the ‘boy who cried wolf.’ Putin is a monster and if dropping a few nukes furthers his empire, well… you have to break a few eggs to rule the world. The Pope says we are in the opening salvo of WWIII and on that point, I agree.

Lest you think Russia will just leave us be, think again. Russian nuclear bombers just buzzed Northern Europe and Alaska — again. They are testing a nuclear bear hug for us and we shout ‘dandelion!’ and off we go in the wrong direction. Nuclear sabre rattling will eventually give way to war.

I try to avoid being too much of a Pollyanna, so this is something to think about. (And the expansion of NATO military exercises in the region should give everyone pause.) But by the same token, I’m not ready to immediately head back to my school days in the sixties, hiding under a wooden desk every time the A-bomb alarm goes off. Honestly, I’m a lot more concerned about an Islamic terrorist getting hold of a dirty nuke than another nation – including Russia – launching the next world war. If Putin were to pull the trigger on something like this, everyone would pay a heavy cost, but we could still wipe the entire nation of Russia essentially off the face of the Earth. (Assuming, of course, we have someone on this end of the line willing to push the button on the football.)

But with all of that said, Putin has a reputation as a bully. There is at least an equally good chance that he was simply spouting off to Poroshenko and trying to muscle his way into a better position. (This still rests on the assumption that Poroshenko wasn’t embellishing the story a bit to gin up international support against his opponent.. a possibility we shouldn’t discount entirely.) Vladimir Putin is the bad guy in any slicing or dicing of this story, but it seems unlikely that a full blown invasion of the rest of the EU nations is just around the corner.