With Russia and the United States moving into full confrontation mode again in what looks like a re-commitment to the Cold War, Russian television has been warning the nation that a nuclear war, possibly even World War 3, is imminent. Pushing anti-American sentiment is nothing new in Russia, but having sensationalist fear-mongering backed by the country’s politicians and military leaders has become commonplace. And with all the military exercises, political posturing, and worsening of diplomatic relations with Western nations (including the U.S.), there is little doubt there is a receptive audience.
ABC News reported this week that Russian television has, at least for the past month, placed an emphasis on reports and programming geared toward preparing the Russian people for a nuclear war. Much of it is couched in a way to question the people’s readiness should a nuclear war break out.
One report, which was shown on the Russian state-owned channel, NTV, stated, “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.”
The Inquisitr reported in September that it had been leaked that Russia had invested in modernized command bomb bunkers around Moscow. The new bunkers are designed to facilitate Russia’s communications during a time of war. It is unclear if there has been a like undertaking with refurbishing, modernizing, or installing new bunkers for the general populace.
Russian television and media outlets are known to be a bit over-the-top, at least by Western standards, with regard to being melodramatic and apocalyptic, but a simple reporting of the actual news of late would likely have the same effect on audiences. Take, as examples, the recent breaking off of peace talks in the Syrian civil war, the United States subsequently accusing Russia and Syria of war crimes, and the announcement by Moscow, as reported by the Inquisitr, that it was withdrawing from a nuclear non-proliferation and plutonium disposal treaty. There is also, again reported by the Inquisitr, the placement of nuclear ballistic weapons on the border of Lithuania (within easy striking distance of most of Europe’s — mostly NATO nations — capitals) and the re-establishing of nuclear bomber patrols bordering American airspace, something that hasn’t been done since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s. And as ABC News pointed out, the Russian military announced recently who would be in charge of the Russian Federation should there be a war. The military also ran a military exercise simulating that very scenario in the country’s south.
Of course, none of that even considers the 40 million people that took part in civil defense drills that had alarmists in the West warning of nuclear war preparations, according to the Inquisitr. To be clear, some of the drills were designed for the eventuality of a nuclear war, but it is also important to note that the drills are a program that is conducted on an annual basis.
Still, hyperbole and sensationalism aside, there are those in Russia who find the propaganda and World War 3 warnings a bit of an overreach.
Aleksander Baunov, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said of the reports, “It’s ridiculous. It’s not preparation for war.”
Baunov said the military exercises and nuclear threats may have several purposes, but none were as preparation for a major war. The nuclear threats, he said, are indicative of how Russia is so used to such news the country can absorb it without taking it seriously.
But there is a more pragmatic reason that just might show the rationale behind all the saber-rattling and talk of an imminent World War 3. Political considerations for Russia’s military budget are upcoming. With the country having economic troubles, given that it is beleaguered by the low oil prices and the economic sanctions imposed on it by the West, not to mention Russia’s foreign military commitments, having the nation appear to need to be war-ready just might convince politicians to make certain the military’s budget remains intact.
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