Russian TV Pundit Rages Over Warship Sinking: 'We Should Bomb Kyiv'

A Russian TV pundit has raged against Ukraine and called for the bombing of the capital city of Kyiv following the sinking of the Russian missile cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea.

Vladimir Bortko, a filmmaker and former member of the Russian State Duma, said on state TV on Thursday that the Russian "motherland" had been attacked after Ukraine said it had hit the ship with missiles.

"We should bomb Kyiv," said Bortko at one point in an exchange with the TV host.

Russia, which began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, has not officially said the vessel was attacked but the country's Defense Ministry has confirmed that the Moskva, which had a crew of 510, sank after a fire on the ship was caused by the detonation of ammunition.

Bortko was speaking as part of a panel on Russian state TV and his comments were flagged on Twitter by Julia Davis, columnist for The Daily Beast and a Russian media analyst, who shared a clip of the show with English subtitles.

The TV host noted that they were talking "about the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet." Moskva is the Russian word for Moscow, the nation's capital city.

"Even the fact there is an attack against our territory is casus belli, an absolute cause for war," Bortko said. "For real, no fooling around without any—what's it called? What are we waging right now?"

Russia has not described the ongoing conflict in Ukraine as an invasion or a war, referring to it instead as a "special military operation," while the country has introduced a law that bans journalists from describing that operation as a war or invasion with the penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

The host said the conflict was "Russia's special military operation."

"The special military operation has ended," Bortko said. "It ended last night when our motherland was attacked."

The host asked Bortko: "Do you mean the flagship Moskva? When you're talking about war, you mean total mobilization?"

"Stop," Bortko replied. "I didn't want to talk about the warship because there were different stories, but you brought it up. The warship Moskva is an absolute cause for war, 100 percent. It's our flagman. There's nothing to think about. There has to be a response, but what kind? We need to come up with it."

Bortko's comments appear to contradict the official Russian government position that the Moskva sank due to a fire on board. The Russian authorities have not acknowledged that a Ukrainian attack on the vessel even took place. Newsweek has asked the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministries for comment.

The TV host said that the conflict in Ukraine had turned into "what can easily be called World War III" and added Russia was fighting against NATO's "infrastructure," citing supplies of weapons Ukraine has received from the U.S. and its allies.

"I mean, world leaders need to be warned. Let them sit at home," said the TV host, apparently referring to several world leaders who had have made visits to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv over the course of the conflict.

This is when Bortko interjected: "We should bomb Kyiv!"

"Then they won't come," he said. "That's what needs to be done. This should never happen, what we are seeing on the screen right now. We have one way of responding. Bomb them once and that's it."

The Missile Cruiser Moskva Pictured in 2008
A picture taken on September 10, 2008, shows the Moskva, missile cruiser flagship of Russian Black Sea Fleet, entering Sevastopol bay. The Moskva sank into the Black Sea this week following what Ukrainians have said was a missile attack. AFP PHOTO/VASILY BATANOV/Getty Images