What would Russia nuke?

By Dawn Stover | March 4, 2019

 

Last week, Reuters reported that a Russian television broadcast had identified five targets in the United States that Moscow would strike if nuclear war broke out. Although a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin denied naming specific sites, the broadcast appeared on Russian state TV and included a video narrated by Dmitry Kiselyov, who anchors the weekly news show “Vesti Nedeli.” (Click to remove the ad in the video above and view the English subtitles.) It aired just a few days after Putin announced that Moscow was prepared for another Cuban Missile Crisis if the United States sought one.

As Reuters noted, the broadcast was unusual “even by the sometimes bellicose standards of Russian state TV.” With the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in tatters, perhaps it is not surprising that Russia is pushing back against the possibility of US missile deployments in Europe. If that were to happen, Putin has said Russia would respond by deploying hypersonic Zircon nuclear missiles on submarines near US waters.

Russia claims its Zircon missiles can travel fast enough to hit targets in the US interior within five minutes of launch, and that each submarine can carry 40 of these missiles. In the Russian news video, Kiselyov used a map to show how Russian submarines would be positioned 250 miles off US coasts. But when he described Russia’s “unparalleled” Zircon missile, the video in fact showed an image that looks virtually identical to the US’ X-51A hypersonic flight test demonstrator developed by Boeing a decade ago.

The unmanned Boeing X-51A Waverider was built as a technology demonstrator for the Air Force, to pave the way to future hypersonic weapons. Credit: US Air Force graphic
The unmanned Boeing X-51A Waverider was built as a technology demonstration for the Air Force, to pave the way to future hypersonic weapons. Credit: US Air Force graphic.

If the purpose of the video was to frighten the Trump administration, the choice of targets was puzzling. The Pentagon and the Camp David presidential retreat would be on any Russian short list, of course. A case can also be made for Jim Creek, a little-known naval radio station about 60 miles from Seattle that provides communications for the US Pacific submarine fleet. But why did Kiselyov point to McClellan Air Force Base in California, which was deactivated in 2001 and is now home to a business park? And why Fort Ritchie in Maryland, a military training center that closed in 1998?

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One theory is that Fort Ritchie made it onto the map because it is near Camp David and only a few miles across the state border from the Raven Rock Mountain Complex (also known as Site R), a Pennsylvania nuclear bunker to which the Pentagon can “relocate” in case of emergency.

Satellite image of the Raven Rock Mountain Complex shows two entrances to the underground bunker. Credit: Google Maps
Satellite image of the Raven Rock Mountain Complex near Fort Ritchie shows two entrances to the underground bunker. Credit: Google Maps

And McClellan? The Russian video claims strategic offensive forces are managed there, but the only military unit currently based at McClellan is a Coast Guard air station that does patrol and search-and-rescue missions. There are plenty of other targets that would seem to have far greater military value but did not make it into the video.

Maybe the Pentagon’s merry-go-round of military base realignments, consolidations, and closures has left Russian intelligence officers’ heads spinning.


As the Russian invasion of Ukraine shows, nuclear threats are real, present, and dangerous

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John Cresswell-Plant
John Cresswell-Plant
3 years ago

Britain doesn’t provide any information at all regarding what to do and who’s in danger. Does anyone know what the major targets would be in the United Kingdom?

Andrew
Andrew
3 years ago

Any nuclear strike would be directed to wipe out a countries ability to wage war. Things to look for are strategic military targets (ex. military bases, supply dumps/military support structures-think manufacturing for bullets, fuel, food, command and control facilities- i.e. where the military issues commands from or uses to communicate from) and political leadership. If your country has a fall back plan/place to use for emergencys such as government bunkers ect., it will likely also be on the strike list. Safest place to be is camping/hunting/fishing in the middle of no where. If you have a cabin in the woods… Read more »

Mike R
Mike R
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew

like -Hiroshima, or Hiroshima The short answer to this question is “no”, Nagasaki and Hiroshima are not radioactive.
Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan. As of June 1, 2019, the city had an estimated population of 2.089 million.

Ann
Ann
3 years ago

We believe railway stations and military camps

Ann
Ann
3 years ago
Reply to  Ann

My father is a royal navy veteran he was on a submarine near horoshima in ww11 it wasent a pleasant experience hes says its absolutely terrifying.. No one would have time to know it was happening if a nuclear bomb hit..

bob
bob
3 years ago

– two would be RAF Lakenheath, a USAF airbase with F-15’s among other things, and about 5 miles from it, is RAF Mildenhall home to USAF tankers.
– another would be London because it is home to government and intelligence offices, and financial centers
– possible the Chunnel to help isolate England

or at least those are the quick of top of my head list I would first strike

Scott
Scott
3 years ago

San Andreas Fault for $1000, Alex

Tom
Tom
3 years ago

Alaska
###

Sam Delson
Sam Delson
3 years ago

Very odd and unsettling, as I live and work less than 10 miles from McClellan.

Lonnie W Cavenee
Lonnie W Cavenee
3 years ago
Reply to  Sam Delson

I live one mile from Port Hueneme Naval Station and 6 miles from Pt Mugu Naval Air Station so join the club.

Emil Teofanov
3 years ago
Reply to  Sam Delson

Don’t worry too much Mr Delson. It will be much better to die from direct hit in the first 2 hours, than to wait for the Nuclear Winter and die from starvation, fallout, and/or disease.
If you feel bad, you can always donate $5 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Google it.

liberalstupidity
liberalstupidity
3 years ago

Russian, China and the Unites States are all nuclear powers and aware of one another’s capabilities and further understand the is no “winning” a nuclear war. As such even IF any of these nations were to engage in conflict with another the probability of nuclear weapons being used is absolute zero!
When the Soviet Union fell in the 1990s it became clear the Soviets actually feared a nuclear war more than the west.

Ryan Alt
Ryan Alt
3 years ago

I think maybe you haven’t kept up with the times. What “someone” allegedly feared 25 years ago is now completely irrelevant. Nobody can honestly claim to know the will of any of these leaders.

me loop
me loop
3 years ago

Many Americans who ought to know better, don’t. The facts are that as often as not, decision makers on either “side” are ill informed and naive, as well as often using information sorely outdated. There is also a common phenomenon-especially among the old soviets, to the effect that the US was always lying-because the USSR was always lying. By alleging that America was no different than the USSR, it was possible to dismiss all ideas of restraint, or the possibility that things could change. The refusal to ever deal openly with reality, and instead to let politics rule is what… Read more »

Johnny Rivera
Johnny Rivera
2 years ago

Misinformation on Russia’s part. Russia will hit all coastline ports of entry and major cities.