Standing before a fiery video simulation of nuclear warheads raining down on the state of Florida, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Moscow ready to deliver a swift response to American military aggression. He also revealed an arsenal of four new nuclear weapons that are under development and designed to render American defenses “useless.”
The saber-rattling speech to hundreds of top Russian officials and legislators amounts to a direct response to President Trump’s calls to “modernize and rebuild” the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the State of the Union address in January.
The escalatory rhetoric, reminiscent of the Cold War, comes as the two nations currently face off in several volatile hot spots where the risk of miscalculation could result in direct conflict with unforeseeable consequences. U.S. and Russian forces operate in close proximity at several flashpoints in places like Syria and across eastern Europe by flying warplanes, sailing battleships, and training proxy forces on the ground.