If spates of reports are to be believed, there is a high probability of World War III looming large on the hapless citizens of this disturbed world. The key players are Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President-elect Donald Trump, and Europe's likely lesser role.

In a report published by Dailystar, Sir Michael Graydon, former head of the RAF, opined that Putin in all likelihood would invade Eastern Europe if the U.S. withdraws from NATO. He called for Europe to pull up its socks and plan defenses independently.

His concern is predicated on the position taken by Trump to withdraw from NATO if other allied countries do not increase their share in funding the expenditure incurred their operations. At present, the U.S. foots the NATO expenditure bill to the extent of 72 percent.

Three other colleagues of Sir Michael share his apprehension about President Putin's designs if NATO is weakened by the U.S. withdrawal. The former in-charge of the British Army, General Lord Richard Dannatt, urged Europe not to ignore Trump's threat. General Richard Shirreff, former NATO deputy supreme allied commander for Europe, and Lord Edwin Bramall, former Army head, also echoed similar concerns.

In a related report, Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President, voiced similar concerns saying that Europe cannot bank on the U.S. to support them perpetually. He exhorted Europe to have its own army, which would be a new approach to defending  on its own without the support of the U.S.

It is a moot point who among the principal players, Trump and Europe, will blink first. The former top military personnel has advised Europe to take Trump's threat seriously and act quickly to avert any unnecessary grave conflict. In fact, Sir Richard went so far as to say that Russia would start a nuclear war against Eastern Europe in 2017. If President-elect Trump and Europe don't see eye to eye, it is more than likely that Sir Richard's prediction may come true and President Putin may want to test the waters by invading Eastern Europe.