Russian lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky speaks after being awarded a state medal by Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in September. (Ivan Sekretarev/European Pressphoto Agency)

 

So Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Russia's flamboyantly outspoken ultranationalist leader, has warned Americans that a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for nuclear war.

“Americans voting for a president on November 8 must realize that they are voting for peace on planet Earth if they vote for Trump,” Reuters quoted Zhirinovsky as saying. “But if they vote for Hillary it's war. It will be a short movie. There will be Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere.”

Should we be worried?

Well, sure, we should always be worried about war with Russia; Moscow's nuclear arsenal could eliminate all life on the planet. And it's true that tensions between the United States and Russia over Syria, Ukraine and the White House's accusation of Russian meddling in U.S. elections feels like the beginning of Cold War 2.0.

But we're not closer to war just because Zhirinovsky, who has been trafficking in jingoistic, racist and downright kooky statements since the early 1990s, says so. His fantastically misnamed Liberal Democratic Party of Russia took third place in recent parliamentary elections, but it holds only 39 seats in the 450-seat State Duma. And though Zhirinovsky casts himself as an opposition figure — and was one when his party shocked Western observers and the pro-Western Kremlin by winning the most votes in the 1993 election — today his party falls in line with the Kremlin on every important vote.

He has also threatened to bomb Poland and the Baltic states into oblivion, annex Afghanistan and the Middle East so that Russian soldiers could “wash their boots in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean,” and take back Alaska from the United States. Most Russians have learned to tune him out.

At most, Zhirinovsky's outlandish ideas serve as trial balloons for Kremlin policymakers, presumably leading to the distinguished-service medal he was awarded by Putin in September. Putin has made no secret of his animosity for Clinton, and Trump has said all kinds of things that Moscow wants to hear, from his ambiguous statements about Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine to his suggestion that, as president, he would steer the United States to a more isolationist foreign policy.

Putin has said he will not interfere in U.S. elections, but Zhirinovsky can say things that Putin wouldn't.

Trump “won't care about Syria, Libya and Iraq, and why on Earth should America interfere in these countries? And Ukraine. Who needs Ukraine?” Zhirinovsky told Reuters. “Trump will have a brilliant chance to make relations more peaceful.”

Zhirinovsky loves to tout his similarities with Trump; they share a penchant for outrageous, misogynistic and nationalistic pronouncements. Zhirinovsky has even said he wants a DNA test to see whether he is related to Trump, according to Reuters. But there's no question that when it comes to saying the unmentionable in public, Zhirinovsky routinely trumps Trump.

So it should come as no surprise that Zhirinovsky said another reason Clinton shouldn't be president, in addition to being the harbinger of worldwide destruction, is that she's a woman.

“Most Americans should choose Trump, because men have been leading for millions of years," he said. "You can't take the risk of having one of the richest, most powerful countries led by a woman president.”

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