As President Donald Trump sent mixed messages about his plans for possible military action in Syria this week, Russian state media advised citizens to take his warnings from earlier this week to heart, and prepare for war with the U.S.
On the country's state-owned media channel, a news anchor on Wednesday explained to viewers how to prepare for a potential war by stocking a bomb shelter—while images of nuclear explosions were shown behind him.
As Newsweek reports:
Warning that the potential conflict between the two superpowers would be "catastrophic," an anchor for Russia's Vesti 24 showed off shelves of food, recommending that people buy salt, oatmeal, and other products that can last a long time on the shelves if they plan to hide in a bunker. Powdered milk lasts five years, while sugar and rice can last up to eight years, the newscaster explained before showing videos of pasta cooking in a bomb shelter.
The newscast showed shelf-stable foods that could last five to eight years—including powdered milk, rice, and sugar—and advised Russians to buy gas masks and huge supplies of water.
The anchor took on a mocking tone at times, saying that Americans have far more to fear than Russians.
"The real panic isn't here but across the ocean," said the reporter, adding that the instructions to stock bunkers were for "people who succumb to panic and decide to spend all their savings."
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Trump warned he was considering military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad this week, after he accused Assad—who Russia has defended in the country's civil war over the last seven years—of attacking the town of Douma with poison gas last weekend.
A navy destroyer armed with Tomahawk missiles embarked from Cyrus on Monday, leading to fears that Trump would impulsively launch an attack on the war-torn country—while anti-war advocates urged Trump to allow the U.N. to investigate the chemical attack before taking action.
In response to Trump's threats, Russia quickly said it wouldshoot down any U.S. missiles and possibly target U.S. launch sites as well, leading international affairs and military experts to warn that the U.S. would stand little chance of defeating Russia's defenses—and that an escalation could ultimately lead to a nuclear exchange.
"There is a major war scare here in Moscow. Russia is expecting a U.S. strike in Syria. The Russian chief of military Valery Gerasimov promised a response against U.S. platforms launching missiles," Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Newsweek. "The U.S. needs to keep in mind not only the adversarial position of Russia, which of course is the case, but the Russian nuclear potential...An escalation in Syria that affects Russia may lead to a military conflict with Russia, which has an escalation trajectory towards a nuclear war."
Meanwhile, Murtaza Mohammad Hussain at the Intercept argued that while Trump's threats could carry the danger of war, the majority of those who will suffer in a conflict between the U.S. and Russia are likely neither American nor Russian—but Middle Eastern.
If there is a great power conflict, the escalation will happen by both sides bombing Syrians more, maybe throwing in some Iraqis, Iranians and Lebanese depending on how bad things get. No one in Russia or America needs to worry about any “WW3” that would affect them directly.
— Murtaza Mohammad Hussain (@MazMHussain) April 11, 2018