Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a nuclear warning to the United States, saying Russia’s nuclear arsenal would target the U.S. if America decided to deploy any nuclear weapons to the European continent following its formal withdrawal from the INF treaty. Putin’s remarks were reminiscent of a national address the Russian president delivered two years ago, touting the destructive capabilities of Russia’s nuclear arsenal (despite many of these platforms failing to perform as advertised in testing).
“(We’re talking about) naval delivery vehicles: submarines or surface ships. And we can put them, given the speed and range (of our missiles) in neutral waters. Plus they are not stationary, they move and they will have to find them,” Putin said. “You work it out: Mach nine (the speed of the missiles) and over 1,000 km (their range).”
Now, Russian-owned state media outlets are bolstering Putin’s claims, even going so far as to offer a list of five targets Russia’s hypersonic Zircon missiles would target and destroy if a conflict between the two nations were ever to turn nuclear. The list, however, seems to suggest that Russian media is better at hype than fact-checking.
The locations listed by Russia as the nation’s first strike targets are:
- The Pentagon
- Camp David
- Jim Creek Naval Radio Station in Washington state
- Fort Ritchie in Maryland
- McClellan Air Force Base in California
The Pentagon and Camp David both seem like obvious choices. These locations are a matter of public record and house a great deal of the leadership apparatus America would rely on in a time of global war. Jim Creek Naval Radio Station also makes a great deal of sense. It houses the Navy’s very low frequency radio transmitter that America relies on to transmit single-line of communication orders to America’s nuclear submarines operating in the Pacific. Eliminating Jim Creek could inhibit or even prevent U.S. Navy missile subs from receiving the command to return fire in the event of a Russian nuclear strike.
As for Fort Ritchie and McClellan Air Force Base, it’s unclear why Russia would be so interested in destroying these locations, seeing as they’ve both been closed for years. Fort Ritchie once housed support assets for the Raven Rock Mountain Complex (a large-scale nuclear bunker meant to ensure military leadership survived a nuclear attack) but the base was shut down in 1998. McClellan Air Force Base was once a major logistical hub for the U.S. military, but its doors, too, closed for good in 2001.
So while Moscow’s propaganda machine may still be firing on all cylinders, it would seem the nation increasingly known for its broad array of cyberwarfare capabilities still hasn’t quite mastered the art of Google.
But we won’t tell them if you won’t.
Feature image courtesy of NASA