A RUSSIAN military commander has issued a shock warning as he claimed the world is just millimetres away from World War 3.
Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov warned tensions could stretch to breaking pointing as the US and Russia square up to each other over Syria.
The commander – who led Russia’s powerful Black Sea Fleet between 1998 and 2002 – said a “big war” is now looming.
He urged politicians to negotiate and stop the march towards conflict – and said “we must not allow war”.
Komoyedov’s dire warning came as US President Donald Trump told Russia to “get ready” for a missile strike on Syria.
War fears have spiked over the past few days as the US looks to strike the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad following a chemical attack in Douma.
When asked if the US would strike Syria, Admiral Komoyedov said: “The Americans, it seems to me, were completely stupefied: the world stands in millimetres from a big war, and this is serious.
“But I hope for the reason and ability of politicians to negotiate – both ours and the US. We must not allow war.”
Russian diplomats today said Moscow’s forces would defend Syria and even try to shoot down US missiles.
It was this comment which sparked the fury of Trump, who responded by blasting Russia for backing “gas killing animals”.
Admiral Komoyedov said he expected Russia to defend Syria if the US did launch an attack – something which could spark World War 3.
He added however Russian forces would not risk trying to shoot down US planes or sink US warships.
The military chief said: “We can use the available air defence forces and forces in Syria, we have decent opportunities there for fighter aircraft.”
Russian diplomats however suggested that the “sources” of US missiles would be also be considered targets.
Vladimir Putin and Assad are close allies and thousands of Russian troops remain in Syria – along with warplanes and warships at their base in Tartus.
US forces also have presence in Syria and in neighbouring Iraq following their ongoing conflict with ISIS.
Trump opted to strike the Syrian regime last year following a chemical attack, sending USS Porter to launch 59 cruise missiles at the airbase in Shayrat.
Russia failed to respond in 2017, but larger US military action is expected to draw a reaction from Putin.
Admiral Komoyedov said: “You cannot underestimate the US, this is a militarily powerful country.
“The depth of the strategic defence of the US is 1500km. It is very serious. War should be avoided, stop those millimetres that still remain.”
Russia has denied Syria staged the chemical attack, and even branded reports “fake news” that could have “grave repercussions”.
Putin’s foreign ministry suggested the US may way to strike Syria as part of a “cover-up” of the chemical attack.
US ambassador to the UN Nikki Hayley said: “The monster who was responsible for these attacks has no conscience.
“The Russian regime, whose hands are all covered in the blood of Syrian children, cannot be shamed by pictures of its victims. We’ve tried that before.”
She added: “We are on the edge of a dangerous precipice. The great evil of chemical weapons use that once unified the world in opposition is on the verge of becoming the new normal.
“The international community must not let this happen. We have reached the moment when the world must see justice done.”