Russian state TV hosts are, yet again, urging Vladimir Putin to start a suicidal nuclear war with the West. Last week two Putin allies discussed using nuclear-armed torpedoes to wipe out the US coasts. Is this a real threat, though, or just propaganda to boost Russian morale?
Another totally normal evening on Russian state TV as Solovyov and Simonyan join military commentator Yevgeny Buzhinsky in fantasising about the Poseidon underwater drone causing a nuclear tsunami that engulfs Britain pic.twitter.com/kNigUAmMo8
— Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) March 14, 2023
On state TV station Russia 1 last week, host Vladimir Solovyov discussed potential nuclear war scenarios with retired Lieutenant General Yevgeny Buzhinsky. Buzhinsky, who served on the Soviet general staff from 1976 to 1992 and then in the Russian ministry of defense until he retired in 2009, called on Putin to use Poseidon and Burevestnik nuclear weapons against the West. He claimed the weapons would create a radioactive tsunami, “a 300 or 500 meter (1,000-1,640 feet) wave.” At that point, Solovyov intervened to claim that these weapons could destroy the UK. Buzhinsky agreed, but added, “I’m talking about the United States.”
Poseidon, also known as Status-6, is a large, long-range nuclear-powered torpedo with a 2-megaton nuclear warhead. The warhead is a “dirty” bomb, laced with radioactive cobalt, so while Russian claims of a 1,000-foot tsunami are a ridiculous exaggeration (1946 US tests with underwater nuclear explosions created a 94-foot wave, which within a mile had subsided to 15 feet) the weapon could contaminate much of the US coastline with radioactivity — and that would devastate fishing, tourism and sea transport.
The other weapon Buzhinsky mentioned, the Burevestnik cruise missile, is also nuclear-powered but isn’t expected to be in service for another two years at least. However, the Poseidon could already be deployed; in January, Russian state media claimed the first batch of torpedoes had been manufactured and would be loaded on Belgorod, a modified Oscar II-class submarine. Russian sources claim this submarine can carry up to six Poseidon weapons.
Buzhinsky went on to say he’d like to see the new Sarmat ICBM used against the US and UK. As a former defense official, he has to know that using these weapons would provoke a retaliatory strike from the US and Britain — a strike that would destroy Russia. It’s likely these dramatic threats are intended for the Russian people, to convince them their country is still powerful, but nevertheless, Putin’s allies are playing a dangerous game.