Russian TV Goes Nuclear
The fear of nuclear war has been in the air ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on March 24th. How real is the nuclear possibility?
If there is a decision to start an all-out nuclear war, that decision will take place in the mind of one man and one man only, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.
To understand Putin’s mind, it’s helpful to look at a story from the autobiography Putin published in 2000. As a boy in his hometown of Leningrad, Putin explains that he and his friends amused themselves by chasing rats with a stick in the stairwell of their communal housing block.
But one day, Putin made the mistake of cornering a rat. What did the rat deprived of escape routes do? Writes Putin, “It threw itself at me. I was surprised and frightened. Now the rat was chasing me.” From that incident, Putin learned a lesson.
In the year 2000, Putin oversaw a total rewrite of Russia’s military doctrine. He inserted the use of something forbidden–battlefield nuclear weapons. Ever since then, Russian military exercises have included practice in using battlefield nukes.
Why? So that if Putin were ever cornered like the rat, he could roll out his nukes and go on the attack.
Which may explain why, in the last few days, talk on Russian television has shifted from merely nuking battlefields to nuking entire cities. With Washington, London, and New York high on the target list.
Addressing the Council of Legislators in St Petersburg on April 27th, Putin said about his war in the Ukraine, “If someone intends to interfere in what is going on from the outside they must know that …We have all the weapons we need for this,” and “we will use them.” What weapons was Putin talking about? There’s wide agreement that he was talking about nukes.
In the last few days, Russian TV has given the sense that Russia could use these nuclear weapons at any minute.
On April 20th, Russia test launched its Sarmat missile, which can travel 11,000 miles and carry fifteen nuclear warheads. On one of Russia’s two biggest TV networks, Russia-1, high profile TV host Vladimir Solovyov pointed out that “one Sarmat missile means minus one great Britain.” In other words, one Sarmat missile can nuke all of England.
But, says another TV talking head, Andrey Sidorov, Deputy Dean of World Politics at Moscow State University, ”If we want to hit the real center of the West, then we need to strike Washington.”
TV host Olga Skabeeva adds “this is indeed World War III, no longer just a special operation, with forty countries against us. They declared a war.” She means that we, the members of NATO, started this war. Now it’s up to Russia to finish it.
On Russian TV another guest, political scientist Mikhail Markelov, says the forty nations of the West that have come together to support Ukraine, “are today’s collective Hitler.” And Hitlers must be exterminated. Right?
Russia sacrificed 17 million lives to beat Adolph Hitler in World War II. Says TV host and media personality Dmitry Kulikov, “What made us think that our lives should be better than those of our grandparents? Why should we be free of our historical mission?”
Yes, Kulikov means that millions of Russians would be incinerated in a nuclear exchange, but that is just the price of Russia’s historical mission.
Editor in chief of the Russian international television network RT, Margarita Simonyan, concludes “that everything will end with a nuclear strike… to my horror.”
However there will be a consolation for the Russians who die in nuclear flames. Good Russians belong to the Orthodox Church. Says TV host Solovyov, “we will go to heaven, while they [the NATO enemies] will simply croak.”
Vladimir Putin, First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait by Russia’s President, PublicAffairs, 2000.
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