Russian fighter planes have buzzed U.S. warships in recent months and allied NATO aircraft have reported several close calls, but now a senior official is urging President Vladimir Putin to launch a nuclear strike.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of Russia’s ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, went on TV to advocate a nuclear missile launch to destroy a small island in the North Sea. The militant Russian leader said he wants to show the world his country is serious about protecting its interests overseas, according to the Express.
“In the North Sea there is a small island, a small country of 200,000 people. Brussels should say: look, here is an island. Now there is no island. The country is no longer.”
It’s not clear what island Zhirinovsky is referring to, as the North Sea contains many islands, but none of them have populations anywhere close to 200,000. What is clear is the militant Russian leader’s desire to threaten and intimidate the Western world with nuclear threats.
During his television interview, carried on Russia 1, Zhirinovsky accused the U.S. of being an international bully intent on disrupting the internal affairs of other countries. He cited America’s involvement in Syria as proof that Russia needs to flex its military muscle, according to Unian.
“We have to show what our nuclear forces are worth.”
The provocative threats come mere days after the U.S. finished building a missile shield in Romania designed to protect America’s NATO allies from a nuclear missile attack. The shield will eventually extend from Greenland in the north to the Azores, a small island in the Atlantic, in the south.
Russia responded by accusing the U.S. and NATO of using the missile defense shield to prepare for a first strike against the country and vowed to reopen missile defense bases that closed 10 years ago.
Tensions between NATO and Russia have risen lately as the former communist country continues to antagonize the U.S. military with aggressive behavior, defense industry consultant Loren Thompson told USA Today.
“Small confrontations can turn into big wars, and Russian military doctrine embraces the use of nuclear weapons to win local conflicts.”
In June 2015, a Russian jet approached a U.S. destroyer sailing in the Black Sea near Crimea, and in October, American Navy jets intercepted two Russian aircraft flying near an aircraft carrier.
Then, in January, a Russian fighter jet came within 20 feet of an Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance plane. In April, a Russian fighter barrel rolled over a reconnaissance plane flying over the Black Sea. Two fighter jets also flew within 30 feet of a U.S. destroyer.
Russian bomber activity has also increased as long-range flights have increasingly been sighted as far south as the California coast, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told CNN.
“There have been repeated incidents over the past year where Russian aircraft have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns. Unsafe and unprofessional actions by a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between the two countries.”
The proposal of a nuclear strike against a NATO island in the North Sea is sure to ratchet up tensions between Russia and the U.S. even farther.
The far-right wing Russian leader is known for his brash statements. After the Brussels terror attacks, he praised ISIS militants for attacking Europe. Additionally, he’s called for the nuclear destruction of Turkey after that country shot down a Russian warplane.
[Image via Alexyz3d/Shuttestock]