Russian State TV Cheers Chinese Spy Balloon for Turning U.S. 'Upside Down'

Russian state TV host Margarita Simonyan cheered the suspected Chinese spy balloon that floated across the United States this week for turning the country "upside down" during a recent broadcast.

The balloon, first spotted over Billings, Montana, on Wednesday, captured the attention of millions of Americans this past week, sparking concerns about national security and fierce debate about whether the Biden administration should have been quicker to shoot it out of the sky. The surveillance device was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday afternoon.

Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russia Today (RT) who frequently presents on Russian state TV, praised China for allegedly sending the balloon into American airspace—though China maintains that it was only a weather balloon that was simply blown off-track with no sinister purpose. Video of Simonyan's remarks were translated and posted to Twitter on Sunday by journalist Julia Davis, founder of the Russian Media Monitor.

"I was also amused this week by the brilliant confrontation of America and China," said Simonyan. "Again, huge respect to China for doing it beautifully."

She lamented on the large amount of media coverage the balloon received, specifically pointing to CNN.

"If you go to CNN international, all the coverage is about that. A bit about the Australian girl bitten by a shark. Something else about North Korean teenagers. And the rest about the balloon, the balloon, the balloon," Simonyan said. "When and how it should have been shot down, and a third balloon caught by Venezuela or Guatemala."

Simonyan praised China, which she said "managed to turn the whole country upside down." She also added that the coverage of the suspected spy balloon drew attention away from the Russia-Ukraine war, which will hit its one-year mark later this month.

She also complained that the American news outlet doesn't "know anything" about the conflict. However, Russian state TV has served as Russian President Vladimir Putin's propaganda machine amid the war, as the Kremlin cracked down on free speech in Russia last year.

Russian State TV cheers Russian spy balloon
Russian broadcaster Margarita Simonyan is seen in St. Petersburg on June 17, 2022. Inset, an Israeli-made Aerostat Balloon. Simonyan, during a recent broadcast, celebrated the suspected Chinese spy balloon that floated across the U.S. this past week for turning the country “upside down.” Contributor/Getty Images; SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images

Despite the dismissive remarks about the balloon, its presence violated international law as well as the U.S. airspace, and has strained already-tense relations between the U.S. and China. Following its discovery, Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a diplomatic meeting to Beijing.

Meanwhile, China decried the U.S. military for shooting down the balloon.

"China will resolutely uphold the relevant company's legitimate rights and interests, and at the same time reserving the right to take further actions in response," China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement after it was knocked out of the sky.

President Joe Biden ordered the balloon's downing on Saturday, after it passed over large swaths of the country and was hovering over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He faced criticism for not shooting it down earlier, but the Pentagon warned that the potential damage to civilians on the ground outweighed any potential intel China would receive.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.