Britain will not be able "to withstand an appropriate response from another nuclear power", a senior Russian senator has said in response to Michael Fallon's claim that Britain would be willing to launch a first strike "in extreme circumstances".
In a strong public rebuke, Franz Klintsevich said someone should remind the British defence secretary that "it is not the 90s anymore, when Russia was weak and unable to oppose the Western powers."
The first deputy chairman of the Russian Committee for Defence and Security told the state run Russia Today (RT) TV channel: “It is ironic that Western officials constantly accuse Russia of some imaginary aggression, whilst themselves expressing such trigger-happy views on nuclear weapons."
He added: “If the threat is directed against Russia or China then it is a simple fact that Britain will not be able to withstand an appropriate response from another nuclear power. In view of the recent modernization of the Russian military, such claims are simply unprofessional."
British politicians like Mr Fallon must stop using "militarist and Russophobic rhetoric" in attempts to "look tough before the general election", he said.
His warning came after Mr Fallon claimed the UK would be willing to "use nuclear weapons as a first strike... in extreme circumstances".
Mr Klintsevich said it was inadvisable to use the threat of nuclear war as a political pawn.
The senior senator recently made headlines in the UK with his warning that Britain, which has around 215 nuclear warheads to Russia's estimated 7,000, would be "literally erased from the face of the earth" if it genuinely launched a strike against Russia.
Those remarks were also made in response to sabre-rattling by Mr Fallon, who visited Estonia to inspect the biggest deployment of heavy armour to the Black Sea region since the end of the Cold War.
The Conservative politician used the trip to launch an aggressive tirade against Vladimir Putin and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
But Mr Klintesevich has now sounded a cautionary note, declining to endorse a specific British political party as he said: "Russophobic political theatre has unfortunately become an indispensable part of election campaigns in the West."
He added: “Calling the leader of the opposition a ‘collaborationist’ simply because he expressed a different point of view from the establishment’s militarist stance vis-a-vis Russia is utterly inappropriate and counterproductive.”