The extraordinary remark by general Andrey Gurulyov – apparently a direct threat against Queen Elizabeth II – is the latest example of the overheated rhetoric emanating from Putin’s inner circle as Russia finds itself increasingly bogged down in Ukraine. Gurulyov, 54, has served in several senior roles in the Russian military, most recently deputy commander of the Southern Military District.
A deputy of the 8th State Duma, he has been a frequent critic of the UK, bragging after Putin’s invasion on February 24 that his country would opt to attack London before Warsaw, Paris or Berlin.
Speaking in an undated vide aired on Russian state television, Gurulyov boasted that an attack on the British isles could help Russia “change the outcome of this conflict” in Ukraine.
Claiming Britain was preparing for full-blown war with his country, he added: “Let’s make it super-simple.
“Two ships, 50 launches of Zircon missiles – and there is not a single power station left in the UK
”Fifty more Zircons – and the entire port infrastructure is gone. One more – and we forget about the British Isles.
“A Third World country, destroyed and fallen apart because Scotland and Wales would leave.
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“Second, we’ll mitigate the entire system of anti-missile defence, everywhere and 100 percent.”
“Third, we certainly won’t start from Warsaw, Paris or Berlin.
“The first to be hit will be London.
“It’s crystal clear that the threat to the world comes from the Anglo-Saxons.”
Putin himself has not yet issued any direct threats against countries other than Ukraine although he has warned any nation posing what he termed a “strategic threat to Russia” can expect “retaliatory strikes”.
Speaking earlier this month, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ivan Nechaev downplayed the risks – while refusing to rule out the possibility completely.
Mr Nechaev insisted nuclear weapons would only be used as a “response” measure – without specifying what circumstances would merit such a response.
He added: “Russian military doctrine allows a nuclear response only in response to the threat of mass destruction, or when the very existence of the state is threatened.
“That is, the use of a nuclear arsenal is possible only as part of a response to an attack in self-defence and only in emergencies.”
Already tetchy UK-Russian relations worsened significantly after the Novichok nerve on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in 2018.
Both survived – but months later 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess, who lived in nearby Amesbury, died after her boyfriend Charlie Rowley gave her a perfume bottle which contained the deadly nerve agent, which had apparently been carelessly disposed of by the would-be assassins.