A journalist on Russia’s Kremlin-backed TV channel issued an ominous threat, telling viewers that Russia could turn the U.S. “into radioactive ash” -- with the backdrop of a mushroom cloud reinforcing his point.
"Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash," said television presenter Dmitry Kiselyov on his weekly current affairs broadcast, Reuters reported.
The remarks come as the tension between the East and West over Russia’s takeover of Crimea come to a head. The southern Ukrainian region voted Sunday to join with Russia—a move the West is calling illegitimate.
His commentary was punctuated by pictures of Ukrainian authorities unable to maintain control, as well as ethnic Russians singing and celebrating in Crimea.
He also added during the Sunday evening primetime broadcast that "Americans themselves consider Putin to be a stronger leader than Obama," questioning why Obama calls and talks to Putin “for hours on end,” according to AFP.
Kiselyov, who heads the new Putin-approved news agency Russia Today and anchors state-run Rossiya 1, has made other incendiary comments in the past. His most controversial statements have been towards gay people— Kiselyov has stated that the organs of homosexuals should not be used for transplants.
Opposition news site slon.ru summed up Kiselyov’s comments, which echoed the sentiments of the Cold War despite the 2011 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that began a reduction of nuclear arms in both Russia and the United States.
"This evening... Dmitry Kiselyov threatened the United States with a nuclear strike if the conflict over Crimea deepens," the site said.