Why does Russia keep making World War III threats? Saber rattling has gone away in the 21st century, but it could be very dangerous in the modern era, where a war between major powers could spiral towards nuclear annihilation. However, some Russian officials didn’t seem to get that memo – or if they did, they don’t care that their words could have deadly consequences.
It was this week that Andrey Gurulyov, a member of the Russian parliament’s defense committee and toady of President Vladimir Putin, essentially suggested on state TV that the Kremlin would strike London as its first in the event of war. Gurulyov further stated that he didn’t believe the west would stand together should a World War III break out.
Gurulyov isn’t the only Russian official to maintain such Cold War hardline thinking either.
Russian lawmaker Yury Shvytkin on Thursday went even further and called for an airstrike on the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. Shvytkin, who is the deputy chairman of the Russian parliament’s defense committee, made the seemingly shocking suggestion in an interview with the Russian media outlet Lenta.ru, and said any attack would be justified as the U.S. provided Ukraine with a new batch of American long-range artillery.
Shvytkin said that the U.S. delivery of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine had emphasized a “step-by-step movement towards a Third World War.” He was unclear, however, on how Russia’s unprovoked and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine factored into that movement.
World War III or Cooler Heads Prevail?
The defense committee chairman couldn’t be seen as being of the “cooler heads” school of thinking. If anything, his words suggest he may be more of the “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” mind.
“One must understand that we must react harshly. In my view, we should also react to those countries that are supplying weapons,” Shvytkin told Lenta.ru.
“The main center of decision-making is the U.S. Embassy,” Shvytkin continued. “My position is that we need to destroy the government quarter in Kyiv, we need to destroy the relevant points,” and he added, “We will not stand by and watch this mess. While they slap us on the one cheek, we will not turn the other.”
Fortunately, Shvytkin has no authority to order such a strike, but he is just the latest Russian official to publicly respond to the efforts by various nations to show support for Ukraine by supplying weapons and other aid. His comments also came just after Kyiv had confirmed that it received four HIMARS from the United States this week – part of an aid package approved by U.S. lawmakers.
Limited Use of the HIMARS
The Biden administration had been reluctant to provide any weapons to Ukraine that could reach beyond its borders, but Kyiv has pledged to limit the use of the HIMARS to hit Russian targets operating in Ukraine. That pledge has mattered little to most Russian officials, including Shvykin.
“This is the range that allows reaching the territory of our country,” he told Lenta.ru. “Although Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has sworn to the U.S. that he will not launch strikes on Russian territory, we cannot trust him in any way.”
This is not the first Russian official has made such bold proclamations.
It was just last month that Shvykin warned that Finland’s and Sweden’s decision to apply for NATO membership would move the world closer to a “nuclear disaster.” His response was that in the event of war Russia would be ready to use its nuclear weapons and would seek to “destroy the whole of the UK in two minutes.”
Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.