FROM so-called Doomsday planes to Vladimir Putin's top secret nuke briefcase, there are signs Russia could be preparing to spark a nuclear World War Three.
Putin has already warned he will use nuclear weapons against the West if anyone interferes in Ukraine – but Britain has downplayed the Russian warnings as "bravado".
The spectre of nuclear war has loomed over the Ukraine conflict after Putin's war machine was crippled by the fierce Ukrainian resistance – sparking fears the tyrant could use nukes to break the deadlock.
But UK defence secretary Ben Wallace has tried to pour cold water on the growing fears, describing the situation as a "battle of rhetoric".
He told BBC Breakfast: "This is predominantly about Putin putting it on the table just to remind people, remind the world, that he has a deterrent."
Although experts said the chance of Putin using nuclear weapons to spark a world war is unlikely, there are signs Putin could be preparing to start a nuclear conflict.
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One of Putin’s special so-called Doomsday planes for use in the event of a nuclear war with the West has been seen flying around Moscow in recent days.
A chilling video showed the Ilyushin Il-80 passing low over the outskirts of the capital.
The windowless Il-80 is one of four planes designed to act as a flying Kremlin in the sky in the event of a nuclear attack.
Putin would be able to rule Russia and issue commands to his military – including ordering nuke strikes – from the airborne command post.
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The US equivalent are the Boeing E-4B planes based on the 747 airliner.
Russian officials confirmed the aircraft will be showcased with a low flypast at Monday’s annual Victory Day parade on Red Square – and it has been involved in "rehearsals" for the display.
The giant Soviet-era aircraft has not been seen at a Victory Day commemoration since 2010.
Its reappearance is a thought to be a sign Putin wants to send a warning message to the West.
Putin has also been spotted several times around what appears to be Russia’s secret nuclear briefcase.
Last month, he arrived at the Vostochny Cosmodrome via helicopter to visit a space port with Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko.
Putin arrived on the scene accompanied by his top military henchman who were seen carrying the alleged launch device – just days after it was snapped at a state funeral.
The secret case is thought to contain the launch apparatus for the Kremlin's strategic missiles and its presence at the funeral is seen as a chilling threat to the world.
The bag, which has a personalised key code, is normally under 24/7 supervision and completely controls Moscow's nuclear arsenal.
It is reportedly supervised by an armed security officer who accompanies no-nonsense Putin wherever he travels.
The briefcase, called Cheget in Russian, was developed in the early 1980s and was shown to the world for first time in 2019, with its contents being viewed up close on TV.
According to local media, there are actually not just one but three in total.
Its visible presence in recent weeks is thought to be a chilling sign that the crazed Russian leader could deploy devastating nuclear weapons at any time.
STATE TV'S CHILLING THREATS
Russian state TV has threatened to drown the UK under a radioactive tsunami in a bizarre propaganda video.
In the chilling broadcast the presenter also showed how the Kremlin's latest world-ending Satan 2 nuclear missile could also annihilate Britain.
Brazen host Dmitry Kiselyov heralded Russia’s second option to “plunge Britain into the depths of the sea" with its “underwater robotic drone Poseidon”.
In a chilling graphic he warned the missile would raise a giant tsunami wave up to 1,640ft high.
He later predicted the surging water – reaching almost halfway up Scafell Pike in the English Lake District – would contain “high doses of radiation” turning what is left of Britain into a “radioactive desert”.
His threat was based on the "baseless" claims from Russian state media in the past week that Boris Johnson had threatened to carry out a nuclear strike on Russia without consulting Nato.
Downing Street dismissed this as “another example of disinformation peddled by the Kremlin".
'SATAN 2' NUKE TEST
Pro-Putin TV pundits have also previously threatened the use of the world ending RS-28 Sarmat missile – gleefully spouting its ability to wipe England from the map.
Putin boasted that his apocalyptic "Satan 2" nuke missile can "break through any defences".
The tyrant said the world-ending RS-28 Sarmat would "force those who try to threaten Russia to think twice".
The deadly projectile can fly over 11,000 miles, carry 15 warheads and has the potential to destroy an area the size of the United Kingdom in a single strike.
It's said to be the world's longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile.
The separate warheads are capable of detaching from the main 100-tonne missile before travelling towards their target at hypersonic speeds.
The bombs are 1,000 times more powerful than those dropped by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during World War Two.
Putin said: "The missile can break through all modern anti-missile defences.
"There is nothing like this anywhere in the world, and won't be for a long time."
Putin and his inner circle were reportedly living in top-secret nuclear bunkers in March following the invasion of Ukraine.
The use of the high-security bunkers suggests Putin could be preparing to deploy nuclear weapons – a move that would lead to inevitable reprisal.
Movements of planes used by top Kremlin officials in March showed Putin might have been in a hideaway near Surgut in western Siberia.
For a period of time, Putin's defence minister Sergei Shoigu is said to have hidden out in a bunker near Ufa in the Urals, 725 miles east of Moscow, according to investigative journalist Christo Grozev.
The theory was backed by his daughter Ksenia Shoigu, 31, visiting Ufa for perhaps three days from March 22 as speculation was rife that the defence minister had suffered heart problems.
Grozev – who has links to British investigative outlet Bellingcat – said at the time: "I am absolutely sure that Shoigu is in a bunker.
"Tracking the movement of his plane, we see very frequent flights to Ufa.
"Knowing that there are also protected bunkers in this region, this gives an obvious answer about his place of residence."
He believes Putin another bunker elsewhere.
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Previously there have been claims Putin had moved his close relatives to a bunker in the Altai Mountains – some 1,100 miles southeast of Surgut and 2,360 miles east of Moscow.
There are also claims that Putin took time out in the pandemic late last year to inspect emergency bunkers.
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