NUCLEAR war could be imminent as Russia told its citizens to urgently prepare for a devastating radioactive conflict as relations with the West stoop to their lowest since the Cold War.
A terrifying Russian television broadcast explicitly told civilians to find out where their nearest bomb shelter is and repeatedly asked viewers if they were ready for nuclear war.
One apocalyptic broadcast told viewers on Moscow's state-owned TV channel NTV: "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 enraged host, Evgeny Kiselyov, blasted America's "impudent behaviour" and spent two hours warning that a conflict could take "nuclear dimensions".
Aggressive posturing from Russia in recent weeks has seen the state force 40 million of its citizens to take part in a massive defence drill to prepare them for a nuclear holocaust.
Russia’s military announced it would run the country-wide drill in preparation of a large-scale war.
The governor of St Petersburg clarified what bread rations people could expect should Russia come under attack – 300 grams for 20 days.
The Kremlin also ordered nuclear capable missiles to be rolled into a base in mainland Europe, on an enclave near Poland called Kaliningrad.
It comes as Russia vowed to shoot down any American fighter planes that attack President Bashar al-Assad's forces in Syria.
Verbal jousting between the US, Britain, and Russia over the issue of the ongoing bombardment of civilians in Syria are reaching a peak, with the very real possibility of genuine armed conflict between the nations taking place over the city of Aleppo.
But one expert believes Putin's latest ramping-up of tensions is simply a tactic to prevent the US from interfering in Syria and to put the incoming American President on the back foot when they take office next year.
Aleksander Baunov, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Centre, said the civil defence drills and the heated programming on television were a ploy to deter the US from interfering with Russia’s military campaign in Syria or responding too strongly to suspected Russian efforts to interfere with the US elections.
He said: "They want to touch bottom and then to try to go up.
“Any responsible politician…if you are responsible and experienced, it cannot start with further downgrading already bad relations if they are already at bottom.”