Saturday, 15 October 2016

Russian Television Warns of Nuclear War Amid US Tensions


With diplomatic relations between Moscow and Washington at their lowest point since the Cold War, turning on Russian television can be an alarming experience. For the past month, Russian media outlets have been punctuated with reports asking people whether they are ready for nuclear war.
"If it should one day happen, every one of you should know where the nearest bomb shelter is. It’s best to find out now," according to one particularly fevered report on the Russian state-owned channel, NTV.
Russia’s main current affairs show, hosted by a presenter known by critics as the country’s propagandist-in-chief, recently spent two hours warning that Russia would defend itself with nuclear arms.
"We’ve had it with American abuse over Syria," the show’s host, Evgeny Kiselyov, told his audience. "Impudent behavior," from the U.S. towards Russia, he said, can now take on "nuclear dimensions."
Anti-Americanism is not rare on Russian state news, nor is an inclination for the apocalyptic. But more notable than the intensity of the warnings has been how Russian government ministries have joined in the alarms in recent weeks. Since September, Russia has conducted a nationwide civil defense drill, purportedly involving 40 million people, preparing them for catastrophes -- among them nuclear fallout. Russia’s military announced who would run the country in the event of war and ran an exercise simulating that in the south.
Even more bluntly, Russia announced this week it was moving nuclear-capable ballistic missiles into its Northern European enclave, Kaliningrad, putting them within striking distance of Western capitals. In the same week, Russia test-fired 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Such moves have further raised the temperature with the West, already exceptionally high since the U.S. publicly accused Moscow of trying to interfere in its presidential elections and efforts by the two countries to reach a cease-fire deal terrorists in Syria, collapsed amid mutual recrimination and the renewal of ferocious airstrikes by Russian jets on the besieged city of Aleppo.
But the blood-curdling statements and military posturing, however, are very far from heralding imminent war, analysts said.
"It’s ridiculous," said Aleksander Baunov, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center. "It’s not preparation for war."


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