On Sunday night, Russian state television broadcast a map of America with a set of targets displayed on it. They then discussed the new hypersonic missile they’re developing, which could theoretically deliver a nuclear strike about five minutes after launch, according to Reuters.
The choice of targets indicated that the list was an old one and had not been updated for years; among them were the Pentagon and Camp David, but also Fort Richie, Maryland, a training base closed in 1998 and McClellan, an Air Force base in California closed in 2001.
A television program hosted by news presenter Dmitry Kiselyov, the anchor of the state television news, stated that the map was not a threat while simultaneously issuing a threat.
“For now, we’re not threatening anyone, but if such a deployment takes place, our response will be instant,” he said.
Kiselyov is one of the main conduits of state television’s strongly anti-American tone, once saying Moscow could turn the United States into radioactive ash.Reuters
The official Russian position is that such action would be reactive. They have stated concern about the U.S. placing intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe.
Per the Guardian, that is currently unlikely, as the U.S. has no such missiles to spare:
The US said it had no immediate plans to deploy such missiles in Europe and dismissed Putin’s warnings as disingenuous propaganda. It does not currently have ground-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles that it could place in Europe.Guardian
The key to Russia’s position is their new missile. A hypersonic missile, the Zircon, was announced months ago but was met with uncertainty by American military experts. Since then, Russia has launched a series of test-firings of the weapons and are indicating that they may be in the later stages of development. Popular Mechanics painted a concerning picture in December.
Russia has tested a new hypersonic anti-ship missile that can travel a blistering 6,138 miles an hour, or 1.7 miles a second. The missile, known as Zircon, will attack ships at sea and land-based targets. It is in all likelihood unstoppable by modern air defenses.Popular Mechanics
Their report lays out the known technical capabilities of the missile, along with a grim admission that the U.S.’ best option, in the event of conflict, is to sink the ships that carried them before there was an opportunity to fire the destructive missiles. The article ends with a recommendation to seek banning of construction and tests of hypersonic missiles in an agreement between China, Russia and the U.S.
Currently, talks seem to be heading in the opposite direction, based on the recent decision to withdraw from the nuclear arms treaty.