Russian state television aired a chilling piece on Sunday evening where they showed several U.S. targets that could potentially be attacked in the event that Moscow decided it was time to launch nuclear weapons at their old Cold War adversaries. According to newscaster Dmitry Kiselyov, Russia would soon be able to hit any one of those targets in less than five minutes, all thanks to a new armory of hypersonic missiles currently under development.
Included in the list of targets was the presidential retreat at Camp David, the Pentagon, an old military training center in Maryland called Fort Ritchie, the closed McClellan Air Force Base in California, and the Jim Creek naval communications base in Washington state. These targets were displayed on a map during Russia’s primary weekly news show “Vesti Nedeli,” reports Reuters. Host Kiselyov accompanied the demonstration with a somewhat unconvincing disclaimer: “For now, we’re not threatening anyone, but such a deployment takes place, our response will be instant.”
By “such a deployment,” Kiselyov was referring to Moscow’s concern that, in the wake of pulling out of a nuclear treaty, the U.S. would begin to position intermediate-range nuclear missiles throughout Europe. Putin has responded to that possibility, saying that Russia would deploy nuclear missiles – loaded onto submarines – to the waters near U.S. territory. In a speech last week, the Russian president said that his country would not back down from a “Cuban Missile Crisis” style confrontation.
In remarks to Reuters, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said, “Every time Putin issues these bombastic threats and touts his new doomsday devices, he should know he only deepens NATO’s resolve to work together to ensure our collective security.”
This aggressive posture from Moscow comes – perhaps not coincidentally – just as President Donald Trump prepares to leave for Hanoi, where he will meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for the second nuclear summit. Trump has made significant headway when it comes to deterring the Pyongyang threat, though some are skeptical that he will be able to close the deal and actually persuade North Korea to pursue full denuclearization.
Among those encouraging Kim Jong Un to make a deal are the summit’s Vietnamese hosts. In comments recorded by The New York Times this week, Maj. Gen. Le Van Cuong said that Pyongyang’s best bet was to get cozy with Washington.
“The success of the Vietnamese economy is due to its decision to normalize relations with the United States in 1995,” he said. “I would say to our North Korean friends that as long as they have a conflict with the United States, they will not be able to develop their economy properly.”
It’s advice that Vladimir Putin might want to consider taking as well.