"For now, we’re not threatening anyone, but if such a deployment takes place, our response will be instant."
In Russia's Sights
A Russian journalist claims he knows how the nation would retaliate in a nuclear skirmish with the United States.
Sunday evening, a TV personality named Dmitry Kiselyov presented a map of the U.S. during his weekly broadcast on the state-owned news channel Russia 24. The map highlighted several places he claimed Russia would target with nuclear missiles if attacked by the U.S or one of its allies — a startling escalation of the growing tensions between the two world powers.
According to Kiselyov's map, as reported on by Reuters, Moscow's nuclear targets would be military centers, including the Pentagon, Camp David, and naval communications base Jim Creek, which is located in Washington state.
Kiselyov claimed during the broadcast that the "Tsirkon" hypersonic missiles Russia is currently developing could reach these targets within five minutes of launch from a Russian submarine positioned off the coast of the U.S.
"For now, we’re not threatening anyone," Kiselyov said, "but if such a deployment takes place, our response will be instant."
The U.S. dismissed Kiselyov's claims of the nuclear targets as "disingenuous propaganda," according to Reuters. The Kremlin, meanwhile, refused to confirm or deny the contents of Kiselyov's broadcast, telling Reuters only that it doesn't interfere with state TV’s editorial policy.
The comments weren't Kiselyov's first foray into nuclear brinkmanship. In 2014, he opined on TV that Russia could "turn the U.S. into radioactive dust."
While Reuters notes that Kiselyov is close to the Kremlin, several of the nuclear targets mentioned during his broadcast don't quite make sense.
California's McClellan Air Force base closed in 2001, but Kiselyov claimed during his broadcast that it's "where they direct strategic attack forces," according to a report by Meduza, an independent news agency focused on Russia. Another target, military training center Fort Ritchie, closed in 1998.
Why Moscow would choose those closed locations over others that might have a greater impact on U.S. military operations isn't clear. What is clear, however, is that tensions are simmering between the U.S. and Russia, and both nations are prepared to do tremendous damage to the other if pushed to the breaking point.
READ MORE: Russia Names U.S. Targets of Nuclear Retaliation [The Wall Street Journal]
More on nuclear war: The Pentagon Needs Help Intercepting “Hypersonic” Nukes