The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Russian TV host: Russia is the only country with capability to turn U.S. into ‘radioactive ashes’

A screenshot from Dmitry Kiselyov's show (YouTube)

With the world waiting for the official results of Crimea's referendum on leaving Ukraine and joining Russia, news anchor Dmitry Kiselyov took to the Rossiya 1 news channel to put the situation into a broader geopolitical context for views.

One part of his explanation, however, has caught a lot of attention: Kiselyov explained to his viewers that Russia is the only country capable of turning the United States into "radioactive ashes." He then went on to use animated maps to show exactly how Russia would automatically respond with nuclear missiles if command and control were attacked or disabled by a U.S. attack.

You can watch the entire segment below. Please note that while it is in Russian, a lot of the graphics in the background are easily understood:

Kiselyov is no stranger to controversial statements. In the past he has used his show to argue that Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws should go further, and that homosexuals should be banned from giving blood or donating sperm. When a homosexual dies in an accident, he argued, their heart should be buried or burnt to ensure it couldn't be used as a transplant for anyone else.

His coverage of the crisis in Ukraine has also been criticized, with his show arguing that Sweden and Poland are engaged in a conspiracy to encourage the Euromaidan demonstrations in Kiev, and his pointing toward a Swedish public television show that teaches children how to go to the bathroom as proof of the depravity of life in the European Union. As the Economist noted at the time, his experience working for a pro-government channel in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution may well have effected his viewpoint.

He may seem extreme, but Kiselyov apparently has the blessing of the Kremlin: He's been selected to head the new Russian state media conglomerate, Rossiya Segodnya, that is due to replace the well-respected Ria Novosti. He also has a point. Russia is still a major nuclear power, with an estimated 8,500 nuclear warheads, more than the United States.

For what it's worth, Ukraine used to have some 1,800 warheads, but gave them up in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum – the same agreement which saw Russia agree to respect its sovereignty.