President Vladimir Putin of Russia is sending a clear signal to the U.S. and its Western allies that he is ready for a military showdown with the West over the ongoing clash of geostrategic interests in Syria. Following the spiraling of tensions between Moscow and Washington to their highest since the Cold War, the Russian government has been issuing instructions to civilians through the state-controlled media about what to do in the event that war breaks out with the West and the "Motherland" comes under direct attack.
The Russian authorities have directed civilians to check and familiarize themselves with the nearest bomb shelters and to prepare their gas masks, according to ABC News. Officials have also issued detailed instructions on how to prepare for a nuclear attack and what to do in the event of an attack.
The latest disquieting set of instructions to civilians and related actions in recent weeks by the Russian authorities ostensibly in preparation for war have grabbed the attention of global analysts who are scrutinizing them to decipher the underlying motives of the Kremlin.
Most analysts believe that despite Moscow's elaborate and dramatic posturing to the rest of the world that it is preparing for a major global conflict that could involve deployment and use of nuclear arms, Putin is not actually preparing to launch a war against the U.S. and its allies. He is only engaging in tactical responses to ongoing speculation that Washington is considering seriously a plan to launch airstrikes against Syrian government forces.
The chain of events that led directly to the present situation was initiated after the U.S. suspended bilateral consultations with the Russians over Syria, with U.S. officials alleging that the Russians had failed to fulfill a commitment to curtail ongoing aerial and ground assaults on the eastern districts of Aleppo held by rebel forces.
The U.S. authorities also formally accused the Russian government of waging cyber warfare against U.S. institutions, including the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Inquisitr reported.
U.S. intelligence officials later told NBC News that the CIA was preparing to launch a series of retaliatory cyber-attacks against the Russian government. The CIA sources said the attacks were being designed specifically to disable the capacity of the Russians to use cyber warfare to disrupt presidential voting in November.
According to NBC News, the CIA sources said the agency "has already begun opening cyber doors, selecting targets and making other preparations for an operation."
"We are sending a message to Putin and that it will be at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact," Vice President Joe Biden reportedly said.
Tensions rose further following speculation that Washington was planning to launch aerial strikes against the forces of President Bashar Al-Assad in an attempt to stop ongoing assault against Aleppo and force the Syrian government to consider resuming negotiations.
Russia reacted to the speculation, warning sternly that the U.S. should consider "the possible consequences" of launching airstrikes against government forces in Syria. The Russian defense ministry threatened that it would shoot down U.S. and coalition jets attempting to launch attacks against forces of Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad.
The Russians warned that they had deployed S-300 VM air defense systems in Syria that have the capability to shoot down U.S. fighter jets. They warned that any airstrikes against Syrian government forces would be construed as an attack against Russian forces on the ground.
"Today, the Syrian army has effective S-200, BUK and other air defense systems, which have undergone technical renovation in the past year," Major General Igor Konashenkov said. "I [also] remind US strategists that air cover for the Russian military bases in Tartus and Hmeymim includes S-400 and S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, the range of which may come as a surprise to any unidentified flying objects."
The Russian government followed up the stern warnings by stepping up preparations for war and issuing instructions to civilians about how to prepare for a nuclear attack, including what to do in the event of direct attack against the "Fatherland."
"If that [nuclear attack] should one day happen, each of you must know where the nearest bomb shelter is," the government instructed civilians in a broadcast by the state-controlled NTV.
The broadcast also took Russians on a familiarization tour of nuclear bunkers in Moscow and advised civilians to have their gas masks ready.
Earlier in the month the authorities had held a large-scale civil defense drill involving 40 million citizens. The authorities issued information about how government would operate in the event of a war and which government bodies would be in charge of different areas of public affairs.
In the midst of the drills, the authorities deployed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, close to the Lithuanian and Polish borders. The move, which rattled the Polish authorities, brought major Western European cities, including Berlin, within reach of Russian nuclear strike.
The Defense Minister of Poland Antoni Macierewicz said the Polish authorities were highly concerned about the development and were monitoring the situation.
The Russians had earlier conducted a series of ICBM tests in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Barents Sea, RIA Novosti reported.
The tensions escalated even further when Putin suddenly canceled a planned visit to France scheduled for October 19, following a row that flared after President Francois Hollande lashed out at Moscow over its role in Syria, the Inquisitr reported.
The French government reportedly said it was considering requesting that prosecutors with the International Criminal Court investigate alleged war crimes by Russia and the Syrian government in rebel-held parts of Aleppo.
There was widespread bemusement in Russia when news broke soon after the row with France that the Kremlin had issued a directive to state officials to bring home all relatives living abroad.
The authorities warned that officials who failed to heed the warning could be overlooked for promotion, the Inquisitr reported.
According to analysts, Moscow's posturing to the rest of the world that it is preparing for war is designed to boost popular support for Putin at home as tensions rise and to signal to the West that Russia will stand its ground in Syria in the event of U.S. intervention.
Kremlin strategists apparently believe that sending a strong message that Russia will not back down with regard to its perceived geopolitical interests will dissuade the U.S. and its allies from trying to stop Russian bombing in Syria.
Other analysts believe that Russia's apparent preparation for war, less than four weeks away from the U.S. presidential election, is not a coincidence.
It streamlines with the Kremlin's overall subtle message to Americans to vote for change by electing the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump rather than the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The Kremlin intends to get the message across to American voters that "a vote for Clinton is a vote for war with Russia," because Clinton is expected to continue and possibly even intensify the foreign policy drives of the Obama administration that Moscow is bitterly opposed to.
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