Maria Baronova, former editor-in-chief of Russia Today (RT), has warned that the world is “on the brink of a nuclear war.” She believes the West will be the first to press the launch button.

“I suspect the Western world will use it. This is a very dangerous situation,” Baronova told Fox News. Her projection differed from most analysts, who claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin will use nuclear weapons against Ukraine and other countries supporting it. However, she said the Russian strongman’s behavior will make the country “the target of a catastrophic attack.”

“The problem is, I know these people very well. They never send threats, they just kill, so there is kind of [a] weird silence around me. But I really think we’re on the brink of a nuclear war right now. I’m not exaggerating.”

Baronova stepped down from the state-run RT after condemning Putin’s invasion of its smaller western neighbor. According to the journalist, a private message sent by her colleague on Instagram was the impetus for her resignation. Baronova’s colleague wrote: “If you are now ashamed of being Russian, don’t worry – you are not Russian.” 

In return, the former editor-in-chief made a public response to the letter. “If I chose to be with Russia, this does not mean that I should walk in a totalitarian system, be silent, or … rejoice that the regime – which I do not want for my country – is being exported somewhere. This regime will finally turn our life into one endless hell,” she wrote.

Baronova left the state-run media outlet after her public response. “That was the moment I decided, ‘OK, that’s it.'” She added that she “was really disturbed by that tone and level of support.”

Baronova: Many Russians “brainwashed” by state-run media

Originally an opposition activist, Baronova joined RT in 2019 and eventually rose up the ranks. She became the managing editor of RT‘s Russian language unit until her resignation. Putin’s attack on Ukraine, which many of her erstwhile colleagues in the media outlet supported, served as the last straw.

The Russian president’s offensive did not only center on Ukraine, as the Kremlin also cracked down on both social media platforms and independent news outlets. They were either forced to shut down or blocked in the country for refusing to adhere to the official narrative on Ukraine.

Social media giant Facebook was among those targeted by Russian authorities. The platform owned by Mark Zuckerberg was blocked in Russia on March 4 by Roskomnazdor, the country’s media regulator. In a statement, the regulator accused Facebook of violating federal law by “restricting access to accounts of several state-affiliated media outlets.”

Baronova believes many Russians are “brainwashed” and fall for the Kremlin narrative that the operation serves to “denazify” Ukraine. “We have internet like everybody else in this world, and you can’t hide information from people in the era of the internet. So I don’t understand how they can be brainwashed,” she commented.

However, Baronova noted that some Russians are being rudely awakened from the brainwashing because of the sanctions imposed on the country and American companies pulling out.

“People were in favor [during the] first day of invasion. Now they are less convinced and much more skeptical because they understand now. [They] are going to lose their jobs, their cars, their iPhones, everything. So, let’s see what they are going to say in a month. The whole world is in a bad position.”

Baronova concluded her conversation with Fox News by saying “Russians love their children, too. Everybody, stay safe.”

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