In a veiled nuclear threat, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of “lightning-fast” retaliation Wednesday against any that interferes in its invasion of Ukraine.
The comments as Putin’s propagandists on state TV have casually floated nuclear annihilation following a test of the Kremlin’s new ICBM, the Sarmat.
“One Sarmat means minus one Great Britain,” Moscow mouthpiece Vladimir Solovyov said on state TV Wednesday. “Because they’ve gotten totally boorish.”
Speaking before Russian lawmakers, Putin did not mention the Sarmat by name — but the strongman at the helm of a nuclear superpower left little to the imagination.
“If someone decides to intervene in current events [in Ukraine] from the outside and creates unacceptable strategic threats for Russia, then [they] must know that our response, our retaliatory strikes, will be lightning-fast, quick,” Putin said to Russian lawmakers, according to Ukrainian newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda.
“We have all the tools for this – such that no one else can boast of right now. And we won’t brag – we’ll use them if needed!” the Russian president continued. “And everyone should know about it! All decisions in this regard have already been made.”
His comments were reportedly met with applause.
After the Sarmat test last week, a pair of state TV hosts chuckled over the prospect of wiping out “a good city” like New York.
“If 7.5 megatons will be delivered to the territory of our so-called [American] partners — the word ‘partner’ is very important — then objects like the city of New York, a good city but it would be gone,” one host said.
In the Sarmat’s initial tests, the missile struck mock targets over 3,000 miles away, a fraction of the roughly 10,000 mile range it is expected to have as an intercontinental ballistic missile.
US officials have called the nuclear threats saber-rattling, and noted the Sarmat test was planned ahead of time — and that Russia had notified the US — as both nations are treaty-bound to do.
“Such testing is routine. It was not a surprise,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said last week. “We did not deem the test to be a threat to the United States or its allies.”
Kirby blasted the Russian threats as “irresponsible rhetoric.”
“Its rhetoric beneath what should be the level of conversation by a modern nuclear power,” he said.
“We’re monitoring every single day, best we can,” Kirby added of Russian nuclear readiness levels. “And we continue to see nothing that gives us cause to change our strategic nuclear deterrent posture.”
Meanwhile, the Russian ammunition depot was hit in the latest series of apparent revenge attacks early Wednesday — which a top Ukrainian official called “karma” for the Kremlin’s ongoing war.
The depot in Belgorod, close to Russia’s border with Ukraine, was left on fire after a loud explosion woke up locals just after 3:30 am, regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on Telegram.
“There were no casualties among the civilian population,” the official said, without commenting on those at the ammunition depot.
Explosions were also heard in another border province, Kursk, where officials claimed an unmanned Ukrainian ski drone was intercepted over Russian skies.
Two blasts were also heard in Voronezh, where officials said air defense systems destroyed a small reconnaissance drone.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak later gloated over the attacks.
“The Belgorod, Voronezh, and Kursk regions are now also beginning to actively study such a concept as ‘demilitarization,’” he wrote, a clear nod to the Kremlin’s justification for the war, which it calls a special military operation to disarm and “ denazify” its neighbor.
“In these Russian regions, large fuel depots, which provided fuel for the armored vehicles of the Russian army, periodically burn, and ammunition depots explode. For different reasons. And they are doing it more and more actively and confidently,” Podolyak wrote.
“Karma is a cruel thing.”