Putin's Nuclear Missile Test Was Practice for Attacking U.S.: State TV

After Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw drills with his strategic nuclear forces on Wednesday, Russian state television suggested that they were preparation for a nuclear attack on the U.S.

In a video translated to English and shared on Twitter on Thursday by journalist Julia Davis of The Daily Beast, Russian television presenter Olga Skabeyeva said that the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces had announced that all missiles launched during the drills had found their targets. The Russian television show then aired footage apparently showing the drills taking place.

"It's very important that we've demonstrated who our main adversary is and what awaits him," Igor Korotchenko, identified as a military expert, said after the video came to an end. "The signal was sent."

"Give me one second, we keep avoiding direct phrasing. Today, we practiced destroying the USA and formerly great Britain, correct?" Skabeyeva said.

"Absolutely correct," Korotchenko responded.

The exchange underscores heightened tensions between Russia and the West over a potential escalation of the war in Ukraine into nuclear warfare. Though concerns that Putin could use nuclear weapons have circulated since the start of the war in late February, the fears increased when he said in an address last month that he was willing to respond to what he alleged was "nuclear blackmail" from the West using his country's weapons.

Russia TV Warns of Nuclear Strike
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via a video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on October 19, 2022. After Putin oversaw drills with his strategic nuclear forces on Wednesday, Russian state television suggested that they were preparation for a nuclear attack on the U.S. Sergei Ilyin/AFP via Getty Images

Additionally, after Russia recently accused Ukraine of planning to deploy a "dirty bomb" on its own territory and then blame Russia, Western leaders rejected the claim and warned that Putin's regime might "attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation."

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin that the drills on Wednesday were meant to simulate a "massive nuclear strike" that would act as retaliation for a theoretical attack on Russia, according to The Associated Press. The Kremlin said in a statement that the exercises involved ground, naval and air components, including practice launches of ballistic and cruise missiles.

Tupolev Tu-95MS long-range aircraft carried out launches of air-based cruise missiles as part of the drills. A nuclear-capable Yars intercontinental ballistic missile and a Sineva ballistic missile were also deployed, the Kremlin said.

"The event was held in order to test the level of preparedness of the military command and control echelons and the skills of senior and operational personnel in organizing troop command and control," the statement read. "The tasks set out during the drill of the Strategic Deterrence Forces were performed in full. All missiles reached their targets, confirming the rated characteristics."

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that Russia gave notice to the U.S. about the drills, according to the Biden administration.

Newsweek reached out to the Kremlin and U.S. Defense Department for comment.